"Prevent the Spread on the Rez": The Blackfeet Nation guide to COVID-19

Clara Caufield: Montana to begin phased 're-opening'

On April 22, Governor Steve Bullock (D-Montana) issued press releases that Montana will soon begin a phased approach to “re-opening” the State. And where Montana goes, Wyoming soon follows.

Fortunately, these two western States, home to many Native Americans, are reported to have the lowest number of coronavirus cases and related deaths in the Nation. Unfortunately, the victims did include some Native Americans – surprisingly younger people.

Thank goodness, none at Northern Cheyenne, but a couple of Crow tribal members fell victim, living off reservation. Perhaps that is because the Tribal governments, like many others, took the threat very seriously, mandating a variety of safety measures, following the State’s fine example. Tribal leaders across the country have responded well and deserve credit for their concern about public safety.

The Montana plan will be phased over a period of time, depending on new cases or deaths. For example, first on the lists are churches (April 27), followed by “Main Street” businesses, including restaurants and saloons and on May 7th, schools. There is no timeline for more public places such as gyms, public swimming pools, senior centers, libraries, etc. However, there will be many restrictions – 50 percent capacity and all must close by 11:30 p.m.; staying 6 feet apart; no more than 10 in a group.

At the same time, us oldsters are encouraged to still stay at home. In the meantime, now Montana citizens are supposed to keep a written log of their travels: the destination, number of people encountered etc. The rationale being if you konk out from the virus, they can track down the infecting culprit. Sorry, I ain’t going to do it.

It is good that states are beginning to “re-open” because these government-imposed limitations upon our freedom are growing irksome. Trying to be a good citizen, I have largely observed those directives, rarely venturing out for going on five weeks.

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As a result, going slightly batty. The idea of it is perhaps more irritating than the reality – I simply don’t like government telling me what I can or can not do. Yet, for the past month or so, there has been nowhere to go except the grocery store, drive up liquor store or to visit a few trusted friends. (If we have infected on another, it’s too late).

Living in town, we are accustomed to many more distractions, or at least the opportunity to pursue them if we want to. For example, why does a person - such as deluded me - start dreaming about King Crab legs when there are none to be had? Not that I indulge on a regular basis, but darn it, I’d like to have the option and freedom to splurge.


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Clara Caufield can be reached at acheyennevoice@gmail.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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