'It'll be great to hug everybody at some point'

Indian Country Today

Marlon WhiteEagle, president of the Ho-Chunk Nation says the novel coronavirus could mean the end of the handshake

In mid-March, President WhiteEagle and his tribal council watched as news of the novel coronavirus made its way into America. He talks about how the Ho-Chunk people are dealing with this pandemic. The Nation also received word from the Bureau of Interior, that its casino application for a fourth location was approved. It's the first step in a long process. 

A few of his comments:

"The Ho-Chunk Nation, we don't have a real reservation per se. We have tribal trust lands scattered throughout the lower portion, the lower half of Wisconsin."

"We're pretty happy. We've worked with our legislative body, our lawmaking body, to put some laws in place where we can have a little more control if people aren't going with the health guidelines."

"We can impose curfews now. So that's a tool that is there that we hope we don't need but want to just keep everybody safe."

"Here at work we do test temperatures of the employees that are here and we've even required masks when social distancing isn't available."

'We set up a big command center right away and our health department's been instrumental. We work well with the county. They do the initial testing"

"When the test comes back positive, then there's an investigation that goes along with, 'where were you when were you exposed?'"

On reopening the casinos: "Our environmental service, they're going to be coming through to do cleanings regularly. We're going to have to limit the number of entrances to the casino.' 

"It'll be great to hug everybody at some point, but no handshake. I see people doing the elbow bump right now. Even that’s too close."

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

The host of the program is Patty Talahongva, executive producer of Indian Country Today.