Cheyenne River: 'This is our home and everybody stepped up to protect it'

Indian Country Today

We've had to take these actions cause, had we waited for anybody who knows what condition we'd be in today

Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is our guest today. 

Throughout this pandemic the governor of South Dakota has not issued a stay at home order or put any restrictions on the residents. This is putting her at odds with several tribes in the state who have put up checkpoints and set up contact tracing in an effort to protect their people. 

Chairman Frazier:

"Our boundaries are pretty strong. There was case law back in the day that said so."

"We just gotta maintain what we're doing here at home and stay focused and that's what we've been trying to do."

"We're not here to try to make trouble or wreck havoc in people's lives. I mean, again, it's our purpose to keep our people healthy and save lives."

"It seems to be working well and especially as we monitor and see a lot of positive cases starting to come up around us. So we're just going to keep maintaining our position and just keep doing the things we're doing."

"I would say very, very small percentage that we have a little bit of issues with some of the motorists. I don't know less than maybe even 2%, even 1% that are disgruntled about them. But other than that, majority of the people have been very cooperative."

"We were able to contain it quickly, isolate it and contain it quickly. And I believe that success comes back to our health checkpoints. I mean, we knew when the patient came back, we knew where a patient was at when they got exposed to it, and then we were able to move quickly and, and you know, they were being monitored for about four days before, four or five days, I think before they got sick."

"I give all that credit to our checkpoints and also our command center."

"So it worked well. And hopefully we don't have to do that again. But I'm really confident with our process that we have in place that we'll be able to try to keep control of the virus."

"Everybody stepped up, provided their knowledge and we were able to come up with these different ideas, strategies."

"We look at each other as one team. I think that's where the success is right there."

"This is our home and everybody stepped up to protect it."

"The chairman doesn't know everything, so we have to rely on our experts."

"Very first thing we did where we defined some levels, we defined level one, two, three, and four, and there are certain trigger points between them levels. And now they're asking, can we go back to level two, which would, be no stay at home and no curfew."

"We're fortunate we have two employees that have masters in public health and today they'll make a report on if we can and when can we go back and is it recommended that we do scale back at this time."

"All of our decisions have been made that way through our health professionals."

"We shared our plans with everybody."

"We all have different case law, you know, but the one thing that we have in common and is the basis of this is we have a treaty. And in our treaty, it says that before any, a non-Indian can travel through or reside, they must get consent of the Indian. So that's kinda the basis of our health checkpoints."

"The Bureau of Indian Affairs, they never stepped up. They've never done anything for us other than, you know and I've always said that now and again, it shows that they're only here to control Indians."

"We've had to take these actions cause, had we waited for anybody who knows what condition we'd be in today."

"The goal is to keep everybody safe."

"Always pray for good health, give thanks for being here another day and then, once you have good health you can accomplish a lot."

"You need good health not just physically but mentally as well, so you're strong and you can make good decisions."

Also on the daily newscast, Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye reports updated COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the program is Patty Talahongva. 

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