THE THREE W’S; WASH YOUR HANDS, WATCH YOUR DISTANCE, WEAR YOUR FACEMASK
Chairman Mark N. Fox gives live update on KMHA 91.3 FM Radio:
Chairman Fox began his public service announcement offering prayers and condolences for all of those who are sick and who have recently lost loved ones.
Lack of Mitigation Regulatory Measures have led to an Increase in COVID-19 Cases
Throughout the United States, Covid-19 cases are approaching nearly 7.5 million positive cases, with over 200,000 deaths. As of October 1st, North Dakota had 373 new positives, with the total number of active cases sitting at 3,690 and a 6.4% daily positivity rate. Fox stated North Dakota’s lack of regulatory authority and provisions regarding mitigation to help slow the spread has led to North Dakota’s extremely high numbers and increase of positive cases as of late. Total deaths as of October 1 were sitting at 256 statewide.
Parents of School-age Children May Choose Between Hybrid or Distance Learning Methods
The MHA Nation’s schools have been open for almost six weeks. All schools opened using distance learning except Twin Buttes School. Parshall School is utilizing a hybrid schedule at this time. As for the parents and families that choose to continue distance learning, Fox stated that the Tribal Council would continue to assist in any way possible, making sure every student has a laptop that allows them to stay home if the family chooses.
Education is Key
Chairman Fox emphasized the importance of protecting our young and vulnerable people while also stressing the importance of education, stating, “We continue to work with the schools in order to make sure our children are going to school one way or another. Education is key, and through-out this whole pandemic, we need to figure out a way to continue their education to pave the road ahead and for their future.”
The Three W’s; Wash your Hands, Watch Your Distance and Wear a Facemask
According to Chairman Fox, Fort Berthold did an awesome job slowing the spread and keeping COVID-19 virus-positive cases low in March through August, but there was a small uptick in September numbers.
Chairman Fox put a strong emphasis on practicing what he calls the Three W’s; wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a mask. “We’re really emphasizing to wear a mask when you have to be near people and especially indoors. Our goal is to prevent the spread here in MHA Nation. This virus is non-discriminatory and can affect anybody.” Fox stated that it isn’t about the freedom of wearing a mask or not wearing one but rather, about being responsible and protecting other human beings. He further stated, “There’s a huge difference between us and some people on the outside who are making it a political issue.”
Facemask Provision to Wear Masks Indoors at all Times
There have been provisions made to require facemasks be worn indoors at all times on Fort Berthold, in all public places, and the people will be seeing this happen later this month.
The Tribal Business Council has also approved an authorized letter to be sent to the state legislature and Governor Burgum that requests and demands that that same mask mandate be made for the rest of North Dakota.
COVID-19 and Other Factors Have Caused a Significant Economic Impact
“MHA Nation’s lack of federal assistance remains the same. The federal assistance Fort Berthold has received does not equate even a mere 30% of what has been lost,” according to Fox. He further stated, “MHA Nation was doing fine until March when the Covid-19 virus presented itself. Since then, the Nation’s economy has taken a very significant hit. The slowing of oil production has had a huge impact on the Nation’s economy, and adjustments continue to be made.”
He also mentioned there had been some over-expenditures and mismanagements of funds to be addressed, creating yet, another burden and hurdle for the rest of the Tribal Business Council.
2020 Primary Tribal Election
The 2020 Three Affiliated Tribes Primary Election took place on September 22nd, and the official certification of results can be found on the MHA website. Chairman Fox congratulated the candidate winners in the primary election and praised those who ran a clean and respectable campaign.
The Election Board is Appointed and Thereafter, Follow Procedures set Forth in the Constitution and Ordinance; No Meetings or Interaction with the Council
In regard to the Election Board, he explained that the role of the Tribal Business Council is to appoint an election board. From that point forward, they have an ordinance and constitution to follow and uphold. The Election Board does not meet with or interact with the Tribal Business Council once they are appointed, and the board is formed. However, beings this particular election is taking place during a pandemic, the Tribal Business Council did have to interact with the Election Board to ensure proper Covid-19 guidelines were being followed in order to uphold the right that any member who had been impacted by Covid-19 through quarantine, still had an opportunity to come and vote. “Short of that, we have had no role in any decisions made,” stated Chairman Fox.
Grievances to be Filed with the Board and Appeals, with the Tribal Court, if Necessary
Fox also stated if anyone feels like during the election process, they have a grievance or an occurrence they disagree with; they can file appeals to the Board. If afterward, they still feel that their issue wasn’t addressed, they can move further on and appeal through the Tribal Court. Chairman Fox said, “This is why we have these judicial systems and boards. We simply appoint and rely on them to fairly conduct an election, and they have a great history of doing that. We stand firmly behind the decisions they have to make, but we stand even more firmly on the process.”
Importance of Each Vote and System to Ensure Everyone Can Vote
With the National Election coming up on November 3rd, Chairman Fox stressed the importance of getting out and voting. Unfortunately, the Tribal Voter I.D. event, which was to occur with the NDDOT to serve to provide non-driver I.D.’s to those without Identification, was canceled due to the rising Covid-19 cases through-out the state. However, there are plans on the Fort Berthold Reservation to ensure everyone can cast their votes by updating their physical addresses on all members’ Tribal I.D.’s. For more information on that process, members can contact the Tribal Enrollment Office.
Seasonal Flu Shots at Elbowoods Memorial Health
Lastly, seasonal flu shots are now being administered through Elbowoods Memorial Health Center and field clinics for those interested in receiving one. Fort Berthold will also be holding five Covid-19 mass testing events throughout the month of October. You can find the schedule and locations for each site listed on the www.mhanation.com/coronavirus website page and on the MHA Covid-19 Task Force’s Facebook page.
Chairman Mark N. Fox ended his segment, commending all of our healthcare workers and the MHA Covid-19 Task Force for all of their hard work and selflessness on providing services to our people during this pandemic.