fbpx
 

ANADARKO, Okla. — As COVID-19 sweeps across Indian Country, tribes rally to protect their vulnerable members and ensure tribal government proceeds as normal. Newly elected Apache Business Committee member Dustin Cozad has been working on that since his first day in office in June, he said.

“The unpredictable nature of the virus has certainly affected tribal operations. There were times when we were forced to close departments due to COVID-19 exposure,” Cozad said. “Despite that we're still able to serve our people.”

A quick review of the Apache Tribe’s website reveals a litany of office closures and accommodations made in the wake of the pandemic’s spread. The disease temporarily shut down the Apache’s food distribution program in early August after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 (the program has since resumed). Even the general election was moved from April 4 to June 27.

Since then, the Apache have moved to protect both their employees and tribal members as much as possible, Cozad said.

“The Apache tribe is working to provide personal protective equipment to tribal members, as well as other necessities and sanitation supplies,” Cozad said. “The tribe is also setting policies in the workplace to help keep employees safe from contracting and spreading the virus. Renovations will be done on tribal buildings to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, the tribe is working to allocate funds awarded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to those most in need, Cozad said. The CARES Act was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law March 27. A portion of those funds went to Indian Country to help tribes in their response to COVID-19.

“The tribe is providing aid for all adult tribal members who have been affected by the pandemic. We also have Distance Learning assistance for all school-aged tribal kids ages 5 to 17 to purchase the technology needed to attend class from home,” Cozad said.

That assistance, according to a public release from the tribe, amounts to a $600 Visa card.

“We created the Direct Impact Assistance Program for tribal members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and need financial assistance to offset costs incurred by COVID-19. The Apache tribe continues to work diligently to find ways to provide relief for all tribal members during this difficult time,” the statement from the tribe said. 

COVID-19 presents a rapidly changing, unprecedented challenge for both Native Americans and the wider country—a challenge that the Apache continually work to understand and overcome, Cozad said.

“The pandemic is something we are constantly adapting to,” he said.

More Stories Like This

Michigan Governor Appoints 1st Native Citizen to Court of Appeals
Michigan Governor Meets with State's Tribes
Manitoba Man Charged with Killing 3 More Indigenous Women, House of Commons Rejects State of Emergency Request
SEEN & HEARD at the White House Tribal Nations Summit
Native News Weekly (December 4, 2022): D.C. Briefs

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $25 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Author: Chez OxendineEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chesley Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is an Oklahoma-based contributing writer for Native News Online. His journalism has been featured in the Fort Gibson Times, Muskogre Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, Source Magazine, Oklahoma Magazine, and elsewhere. He can be reached at [email protected]