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Due to the worldwide outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and multiple confirmed cases in Iowa, the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation) declared an emergency declaration on March 17th, 2020 enacting a Shelter-in-Place Order for Tribal members on the Meskwaki Settlement.
On that date, the Meskwaki Tribe suspended its workforce with pay and closed its facilities. Keeping only its most essential working staff to provide community supports, operational objectives have continued throughout. Tribal Council would like to commend and applaud the dedicated people who stepped up and took charge during this historic emergency event, ensuring that community supports remained in place.
Services that continued with staff assisting either at home or on-site included the Meskwaki Health Clinic’s nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, home health workers, counselors, maintenance, and support staff who selflessly held the “front line” working directly with the virus; Senior Services staff and volunteers who gallantly provided meals to elders; Meskwaki Settlement School teachers, foodservice workers, and support staff who ensured youth learning and engagement continued; Family Services, Behavioral Health Services, Child Support Services, Probation and Youth Department workers who kept community and family members supported in their homes; Public Works and Facilities staff who provided garbage, utilities, road service, and building maintenance support; Meskwaki Natural Resources/MFSI, Hemp, and Red Earth Gardens/Economic Diversification staff who ensured resources were intact and growing season initiated; Meskwaki Police Department and EMS (volunteers) who guarded and protected members to ensure safety on the Settlement; Fiscal, Enrollment, and Gaming Commission staff who ensured payments were made and finances balanced; Informational Technologies, Internet Broadband, and Media Services staff who kept the community and staff informed and supported; Language and Historic Preservation Department staff who kept history and culture intact; MAPA and volunteers who kept the powwow grounds mowed; Housing and Apprenticeship services who kept houses maintained; Tribal Operations Executive staff, Human Resources, Court Services, Program Directors, Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel staff, Pinnacle Bank, Meskwaki Travel Plaza, and Meskwaki, Inc. personnel who ensured basic operational services continued throughout; and every community member who supported through prayer, support, and self-distancing. Each person held the line and did their part. Ketebi.
The Meskwaki Nation’s mission is “To rely on the knowledge and experiences of the past, along with the will to survive to advance the people, culture and well-being of the Meskwaki Nation.” With this mission as the foundation, the Tribe now seeks to move forward toward normal operations in a phased and thoughtful approach.
As the Tribe slowly and methodically begins bringing back its day-to-day operations, we will be guided by the following principles:
• Serve and support the needs of the Meskwaki community with compassion and flexibility.
• Prioritize and reopen programming and services with regard to their impact to the community based on the health and safety of the Meskwaki people, community members, staff, and visitors – with extra care and consideration of the most vulnerable populations on the Settlement, our elders and youth.
• Follow medical advice and direction from Meskwaki Health Services and CDC guidelines.
As programs and departments begin to reopen, the Tribe understands that no single approach will fit every situation so we will continue to watch and adjust as needed throughout the process. As we do, we endeavor to take significant measures to protect the safety of the community, staff, and visitors by providing protective equipment, ensuring social distancing, and enhancing cleaning throughout each building, facility, and public space. Throughout, we will maintain restrictions on business travel, reduce visitor access, and limit workplace gatherings and in-person meetings.
Beginning Monday, June 15th, 2020, Tribal Council will lift the Shelter-in-Place Order for Tribal members and enter the first phase of reopening our operations and facilities on the Settlement.
In order to serve the Meskwaki community, and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all employees, certain procedures will be enacted. They include:
• Administrative buildings will reopen with limited access to non-employees. Community members seeking access to the Tribal Center, and to all Tribal buildings, will be required to enter through the front door only. Some buildings and services will remain closed for now including: the Senior Services Building, Museum and Cultural Center, Youth Department, Wellness Center, and Tribal Gym. These facilities will reopen during subsequent phases of the reopening.
• Some facilities will be closed but utilized on an “as needed” and/or limited bases: Tribal Justice Center, Child Support Services, and Family Services. Any meetings with the staff will be by appointment only.
• All visitors to any and all Tribal facilities will be required to wear a face mask and follow the one-way accesses into and out of the building(s). If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you. Please follow signage and social distancing rules. Community members are encouraged to schedule appointments with the appropriate department before arriving to conduct business. Please call ahead. A staff directory is available by calling (641) 484-4678.
• Most employees will return to carry out the basic day-to-day operations of the government. Department directors, working with Executive Director Lawrence SpottedBird and Tribal Council, will determine which staff positions will be called back during the initial phase of reopening, and all subsequent phases, and be notified with detailed information regarding the safeguards that will be implemented upon their return. The Meskwaki Tribal Operations Reopening Plan will also be emailed/available to each one.
• Staff members impacted by facility and service closer will be placed on temporary furlough as of June 15, 2020. Department directors will notify affected staff members directly and given information regarding the timeframe of the furlough. HR staff will be available to assist each furloughed employee with his/her application for unemployment benefits.
• An employee affected by the furlough will be able to return to his/her same position at the same pay rate, and be able to earn benefits at the same level, as successive phases of the reopening occur. Those placed on furlough will continue to receive health and dental benefits, at no cost to them, and will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits until their return. Some furloughs could last until September 30, 2020 or longer.
• Policies have been put in place to protect employees returning to work including paid time-off in the amount of a minimum of two weeks if a staff member has a confirmed case of the virus and additional pay replacement if the employee is hospitalized or needs further/longer treatment.
• Additionally, if a Tribal facility discovers that a worker has tested positive for COVID-19, staff and community members who have been in close contact with the worker will be identified and asked to quarantine at home for a two-week period. Staff members will continue to receive pay during these documented occurrences.
• Because all social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are still prohibited at all locations and venues on the Meskwaki Settlement, programming of live community events will not be scheduled by any Tribal Operations department unless approved by Tribal Council.
• The playground and basketball court located on the Settlement will open for use. We want to emphasis to our Tribal citizens, especially our youth, the need to limit close contact with continued social distancing and other safeguards such as handwashing and disinfecting areas often to minimize the risk of spreading the virus while enjoying these and other outside activities.
For more information and/or questions on the Meskwaki Tribal Operations Reopening Plan, contact Executive Director Lawrence SpottedBird at (641) 484-9229.
*The above information relates to administrative buildings and departments associated and connected to the operations of the Meskwaki Tribal Government. Guidelines for the Meskwaki Bingo Hotel and Casino, Meskwaki Settlement School, the subsidiaries included within Meskwaki, Inc., and other Tribally owned entities may and will differ.
Research shows that COVID-19 can be/is spread undetected by asymptomatic transmission and these cases can cause serious illness to others. While the Tribe is working to safely re-open our facilities, the community and each staff member is urged to continue taking precautions to keep others safe. Even if you do not feel ill, it is imperative for the safety of the community, staff, visitors, and each family member that you practice social distancing, promote adequate handwashing, sanitize areas frequently, and continue wearing a mask in any public places where you cannot maintain a six-foot distance between others.
Because COVID-19 affects different people in different ways, infected people have reported a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and more. If you feel ill, please contact the Meskwaki Health Clinic or your local health medical provider. If you or a loved one are having trouble breathing, have persistent pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face, or possess the inability to wake or stay awake, seek emergency medical care by dialing 911.
By adapting, surviving, and thriving, the Meskwaki Tribe continues working to determine the needs within our community and is committed to protecting our inherent sovereignty, preserving and promoting our culture, and improving the quality of life for future generations.
Tribal Council is grateful to every community member who has demonstrated incredible resolve and support for one another. Until a vaccine is available, we know we must all do our part. Until then, the Tribe vows to continue taking the necessary actions to promote safety on the Meskwaki Settlement and seeks to re-enlist the community’s ongoing support to keep the coronavirus at bay. Please, continue self- distancing whether you feel sick or not, perform adequate handwashing, and continue wearing protective equipment in public.
The latest observed value at the USGS stream gauge on the Iowa River at County Highway E49 was 10.91 ft at 8:00 am, which is below the 11.0 ft action stage level. Flood waters are expected to recede as the river level continues falling into the weekend, but forecasted rain in central and north-central Iowa may cause another flooding risk.
Track the daily flood forecast from the National Weather Service at this link: https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=dmx&gage=tmai4. We will keep you informed.
Our friends at ACF compiled a list of free services to help those affected by the recent traumatic events taking place in our world today. The Meskwaki Nation has counselors and staff who can help direct you too. If you need assistance, please contact us or scroll down to find many helpful services below.
~ Office of Child Care and Meskwaki Child Care Program partners
A traumatic event such as this is unexpected and often brings out strong emotions. People can call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline’s toll-free number 1–800–985–5990. This free, confidential, and multilingual crisis support service is also available via SMS (text to 66746) to anyone experiencing psychological distress as a result of this event. People who call and text are connected to trained and caring professionals from crisis counseling centers in the network. Helpline staff provide confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services.
General Disaster Response and Recovery Information
·Coping With Grief After Community Violence—This Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tip sheet introduces some of the signs of grief and anger after an incident of community violence, provides useful information about to how to cope with grief, and offers tips for helping children deal with grief.
·Tips for Survivors: Coping With Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event—In this tip sheet, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) defines and describes grief, discusses ways of coping with grief, explains complicated grief, and offers relevant resources for additional support.
·Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress—This SAMHSA tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. It lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources.
This tip sheet is also available in Spanish at https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Survivors-of-a-Disaster-or-Other-Traumatic-Event-Managing-Stress-Spanish-Version-/SMA13-4776SPANISH. A similar tip sheet is available in Punjabi at https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Survivors-of-a-Traumatic-Event-Managing-Your-Stress-Punjabi-Version-/NMH05-0209PUNJABI.
·Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event—At this web page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the importance of coping after a disaster, and getting professional help if needed, with reactions that may be difficult and intense. Links are provided to additional information about managing your emotional health as a survivor, supporting your children in coping, and making time for self-care as a disaster responder.
This information is available in Spanish at https://emergency.cdc.gov/es/coping/index.asp.
Resources for Faith-based Communities and Spiritual Leaders
·Faith Communities and Disaster Mental Health—This tip sheet provides information for religious leaders about common stress reactions people may experience in response to a disaster and suggests ways they can cope, and help others cope, with disaster stress reactions. The sheet also provides information on referring people for mental health services.
·Tips & Lessons—Disaster Response: The Sunday After a Disaster—
This tip sheet from Episcopal Relief & Development offers advice on how to provide community and congregational support after a disaster.
·Vulnerable Populations & Disaster—
This tip sheet discusses the need for religious leaders to accommodate the needs of vulnerable populations during disaster preparedness and response. The sheet identifies the types of vulnerable populations and illustrates preparedness and response best practices to assist individuals within these populations.
Resources for Children, Youth, Parents and Other Caregivers, and Schools
·Understanding Child Trauma—
This web page identifies events that children and youth may experience as traumatic, presents statistics on traumatic experiences and their effects on children and youth, lists signs of traumatic stress in children and youth of various ages, and offers tips for parents and other important adults in the lives of children and youth for helping children and youth to cope with trauma. Links to resources for more information and support are also provided.
·Age-related Reactions to a Traumatic Event—
In this information and tip sheet, the NCTSN provides an overview of how children and adolescents may react to natural and human-caused disasters that they experience as traumatic. It describes reactions typical within specific age ranges and offers tips for parents and other caregivers, school personnel, healthcare practitioners, and community members to help children and adolescents cope.
·Community Violence: Reactions and Actions in Dangerous Times—This resource from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) provides information on community violence, how it can affect daily lives, and what to do for support.
·Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators—
In this 1-page tip sheet, the NCTSN identifies 10 ways in which youth may react to community traumas such as natural or human-caused disasters and suggests ways for educators to respond to these reactions and support youth in coping. The tip sheet also advises educators to find professional mental health support for youth—and for themselves—as needed. https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/tip-sheet/helping_youth_after_community_trauma_for_educators_final_explosions.pdf
Resources for Disaster Responders
·Psychological First Aid for First Responders:
Tips for Emergency and Disaster Response Workers—This SAMHSA tip sheet provides first responders with information on how to address people for the first time after a disaster and how to calmly communicate and promote safety.
·Tips for Disaster Responders: Preventing and Managing Stress—
This SAMHSA tip sheet helps disaster response workers prevent and manage stress. It includes strategies to help responders prepare for their assignment, use stress-reducing precautions during the assignment, and manage stress in the recovery phase of the assignment. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-and-Managing-Stress/SMA14-4873
This tip sheet is available in Spanish at https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Disaster-Responders-Preventing-And-Managing-Stress-Spanish-Version-/SMA14-4873SPANISH.
·Tips for Disaster Responders: Understanding Compassion Fatigue—
This SAMHSA tip sheet defines and describes compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. It lists signs of compassion fatigue and offers tips for preventing compassion fatigue and coping with it if it occurs, and it notes that responders may also experience positive effects as a result of their work.
This tip sheet is also available in Spanish at https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Disaster-Responders-Understanding-Compassion-Fatigue-Spanish-Version-/SMA14-4869SPANISH.
·Traumatic Incident Stress: Information for Emergency Response Workers—
This CDC fact sheet outlines symptoms of traumatic incident stress and lists activities emergency response workers can do on site and at home to cope with the challenging aspects of disaster response. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/works/coversheet643.html
Additional Resource for Acute Needs
·National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—
Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a source of support available 24/7 to people in crisis, including challenging reactions to disasters. Call 1–800–273–TALK (1–800–273–8255), or, for support in Spanish, call 1–888–628–9454.
TRANSCRIPT AND APPLICATION DEADLINES EXTENDED TO JULY 1 DUE TO COVID-19 OFFICE CLOSURE
All spring 2020 grant recipients must submit their spring official transcript to the Meskwaki Higher Education Program by July 1.
Additionally, fall applications and 2020/2021 FAFSA Student Aid Reports must be submitted to the Meskwaki Higher Education Program by July 1 to be eligible for fall funding.
Please contact our office if you have any questions or need assistance. (641) 484-3157
The next Tribal Council Meeting has been set for Wednesday, June 3rd at 5 PM via Zoom.
Although we’re not sure what this year’s annual powwow might look like just yet, we do know we need some of the community to join the powwow committee to help with planning. If you’d be willing to volunteer, please contact Krystle Tyon. She can be reached at 641-481-6119.
Tribal Council Meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, May 28th at 5 PM. Due to COVID-19 the meeting will be held via Zoom.