Minnesota tribes affected by stay-at-home order

A September 2019 photo of the Red Lake tribal government complex on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. (Photo by Dalton Walker, Indian Country Today)

Indian Country Today

Updated: New coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation have increased by 20 on Wednesday, from 49 to 69

Tribes in Minnesota are the latest across Indian Country to fall under a statewide stay-at-home order in the fight to prevent the coronavirus spread.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order on Wednesday ordering Minnesota residents in nonessential jobs to stay at home. The order begins midnight Friday and is scheduled to run through April 10.

Minnesota joins California, the city of Denver and other entities that have implemented similar measures.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth Nation, posted a graphic on social media explaining the “State Home MN” campaign. Earlier this week, Flanagan’s brother Ron Golden passed away from complications to the coronavirus. Golden had been living in Tennessee at the time of his death.

“As a mom, this means a lot of changes for my family but we’re in this together to keep each other safe. #StayHomeMN.” Flanagan said in a Wednesday tweet.

Minnesota is home to 11 tribal nations and some tribes have responded with a similar order.

The Red Lake Nation implemented a 30-day curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. that started Tuesday. Less than 24 hours later, the tribe implemented phase two of their emergency response plan telling tribal citizens to stay home when possible. Some exemptions include essential tribal government employees, medical purposes, visits to the store, hunting, fishing, gathering medicines.

In a Facebook video, Red Lake Chairman Darrell Seki asked citizens to check in on elders and for citizens to do any shopping within the reservation. The Red Lake announcement comes after Beltrami County announced its first coronavirus case. The reservation is in the northern part of the county. The case was reported in the county’s largest town, Bemidji, which is south of Red Lake and near two other tribal nations. Red Lake is about 250 miles north of Minneapolis.

The White Earth Nation issued a similar “stay home” order on its Facebook page. White Earth, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and other Minnesota tribes all shared Walz’s Facebook post on his “Stay Home MN” order.

Also on Wednesday, lawmakers in Washington D.C., continue to work on a record bailout agreement that would send financial relief to Indian Country.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs vice chairman, said he has pushed for inclusion of tribal-specific resources and policies to make sure Indian Country isn’t left behind.

The $2 trillion relief package includes $8 billion for tribal governments and $2 billion for emergency supplemental funding for federal Indian programs.

(Related story: ‘We have a deal on spending)

Also on Wednesday, a popular sporting event that was expected to attract more than 5,000 people from across Indian Country and First Nations, Canada was postponed until next year. The North American Indigenous Games were scheduled to take place in Nova Scotia in July.

Organizers are exploring options to ensure athletes eligible can compete in 2021, according to a news release. The games are separated by category and age group for mostly high school-aged athletes.

“The collective goal for all of us this time is to keep everyone safe and healthy,” President Tex Marshall said in a statement. “To abide by recommendations and guidance of the Nova Scotia government and its healthcare professionals is critical to slowing and eliminating this pandemic, even if it means delay of something amazing. We at NAIG 2020 are proud of Nova Scotia’s remarkable and unfaltering efforts during this crisis.”

(Related story: Indian Country's COVID-19 syllabus)

A patient at the Hopi Health Care Center in Polacca, Ariz., has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a news release. The patient does not live on the Hopi reservation and was discharged to self-quarantine at home. No other details about the patient were released.

The health care facility is following up with potential contacts and will notify anyone who may have possible exposure. KUYI Hopi Public Radio reported that it’s the first confirmed case at the health care facility.

New coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation have increased by 20 on Wednesday, from 49 to 69, according to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez's Twitter page. 

According to data collected by Indian Country Today, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Indian health system is 84 and two deaths.

On Monday, Indian Health Service reported on its website that 1,123 people have been tested and 42 have come back positive compared to the 494 negative tests. “This is a rapidly evolving situation and the IHS will provide updated information as it becomes available and is verified,” according to the IHS website.

IHS Area health care facilities where tests have been documented include, Alaska, Albuquerque, Bemidji, Billings, California, Great Plains, Nashville, Navajo, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland and Tucson. Navajo has tested 629 people and has the most positive tests with 29, followed by Portland with seven and California with three. Phoenix, Great Plains and Billings have reported one each.

In Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation banned all forms of traditional sweat until further notice, they announced in a bulletin on Tuesday. Umatilla leaders are worried about people being in a sweat lodge and “the potential of exacerbating (worsening) any respiratory issues.”

A tribe in northern Montana has set up checkpoints at the entrance of tribal land.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe has implemented 24-hour checkpoints at the entrances to the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation to help protect tribal citizens from the coronavirus, according to a news release.

The checkpoints began Tuesday and will not allow non citizens or residents access to the reservation who have no legitimate purpose on tribal land. The tribe also has a mandated curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Other coronavirus-related news

The U.S. death toll has passed 900, according to the AP.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath. The virus can cause more severe illness to older adults and people with existing health problems. The vast majority recover.

USA Today is reporting that one of the 10 NBA players known to have tested positive for COVID-19 has fully recovered. Detroit Pistons player Christian Wood, 24, is “feeling great,” according to the report. Wood’s positive test was reported March 14.

Prince Charles, 71, the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to multiple reports.

The Associated Press reports that the Prince of Wales is showing mild symptoms and is self-isolating at a royal estate in Scotland. Charles’ wife, Camilla, has tested negative.

On a lighter note, Instagram users have started a new challenge known as “until tomorrow.”

Users post an embarrassing photo with the “until tomorrow” caption and when the photo is liked, the original poster is supposed to message the person to post their own embarrassing photo for a day, according to USA Today.

Until tomorrow.

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Dalton Walker, Aliyah Chavez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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