Montana Public Radio

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes

As Montana sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, medical facilities, particularly within tribal nations, are being pushed to their limits.

Kaci Wallette is a nurse at the Poplar Community Hospital, a facility in northeast Montana, where a full staff consists of three nurses and three certified nursing assistants.

Montana Rodeo Goes On, Bucking Fears On Fort Peck Reservation

Jul 17, 2020
Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede rodeo contestants got a temperature check before entering the arena and were not allowed to cross over to the fans’ side of the stadium.
Katheryn Houghton for Kaiser Health News

WOLF POINT, Mont. — Cowboys lined the metal chutes that released bucking horses and their riders into the arena, Miss Rodeo Montana signed autographs for fans, and coronavirus warning signs ended with “Face mask usage is of personal choice.”

Most of the rodeo riders and audience at the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede appeared to skip masks, despite public health recommendations and increasing pressure to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases spiking across Montana and much of the U.S.


This week, tribal members who protested the Keystone XL oil pipeline construction earlier this month submitted statements to a federal judge that they witnessed workers breaking social distancing protocol.

A Canadian company’s announcement this week that it plans to move forward with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in northern Montana has nearby Native American tribes and some locals concerned that the flow of workers could carry the novel coronavirus into a community with limited health care resources.

Montana’s tribal nations say their first responders and medical professionals are short on equipment needed to protect health care workers from the coronavirus.


Multiple tribes in Montana declared states of emergency over the weekend following the confirmation of six presumptive COVID-19 cases in the state.


As organizations on the Crow Reservation in south-central Montana prepare coronavirus contingency plans, some tribal members say the threat of coronavirus is still too distant to be an immediate source of concern.

 

Yellowstone Public Radio News reports Crow tribal government is in contact with state public health officials and, like other tribes in the state, are preparing for the possibility of the coronavirus reaching their communities.


A new report says the Keystone XL pipeline would exacerbate the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women in Montana and other Northern Plains states in the project’s proposed path.

The State-Tribal Relations Committee is pressing Montana’s Congressional delegation to do more to increase public input and tribal consultation on the Keystone XL pipeline. The move comes as the end of the public comment period for a recently updated environmental statement nears.

 

In an earlier report we mistakenly identified the age of a recently elected Fort Peck tribal executive board member.  Alexander Smith is actually younger than 24, making his recent election to the tribal executive board a record-breaking win.

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