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PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION — The Oglala Sioux Tribe, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, has issued a quarantine order for all K-12 schools on the reservation due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. 

The quarantine order was sent out to parents and guardians earlier this week by Oglala Sioux Tribe Vice President Alicia Mousseau, stating a 10-day quarantine for all students and non-essential staff would go into effect until Sept. 29 and a five-day quarantine for essential staff (excluding cooking and cleaning staff and administrators) until Sept. 22.

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Mousseau said on a Zoom call on Tuesday that there were 21 new Covid-19 cases and 41 total active cases within the reservation’s borders.

“This is a temporary solution to get ahead of this,” Mousseau said. “It’s not a lockdown, we’re just trying to get ahead of the spread of these cases, so we don’t have more people in our community catching Covid and spreading it. We know there’s a number of things in our community that put us at a higher risk for a number of reasons, so we’re just trying to protect those most vulnerable.”

In the order, an additional reason given for the quarantine was “the number of homes with multigenerational family members including elders and wisdom keepers and high-risk individuals.” 

This measure is consistent with concern across Indian Country, that protecting those within tribes who speak tribal languages and understand tribal culture should be protected from the Covid virus as a means of protection for the future.

“We’re looking out for the health, welfare and lives of our community,” Mousseau said.

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