To the Nation from the Tribal Chairman, Joseph “Zeke” Rupnick:
Dear Tribal Members,
As many are aware, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 is sweeping across the United States. While there have been no reported cases of the virus on the reservation, I truly believe that it is not a matter of if but when. At the recommendation of Tribal Council, we are canceling the Enrollment Amendment Meeting scheduled March 21, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.
This was a difficult decision to make as this issue has been lingering for a long time and many have expressed a desire to discuss the issue and propose changes for a referendum vote. We feel that for the safety and protection of all, we needed to act. Under our Constitution, Article V – Enumerated Powers of the Tribal Council Section 1. Tribal Council Powers. Subsection (t). to promote and protect the peace, health, education, morals, and welfare of the Nation and its members, we are dedicated to protecting the health of our community, therefore canceling this meeting was in everyone’s best interest. While we understand that we should mail a notification to ensure all have received it, in this emergency situation, we will post on the website and provide handouts at multiple locations.
On March 12, 2020, Tribal Council convened for an emergency meeting to discuss travel and leave. Travel has been suspended until April 30, 2020, for all conferences and workshops. Yes, this includes Tribal Council and in addition, we have also adopted a resolution to amend the employee leave policy. The changes made will grant employees administration leave if they are tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or if there is a mandatory quarantine. We cannot stress enough that if you feel sick, stay home to limit the exposure in the community.
Following national and regional recommendations, organizations should cancel events where large groups of people will congregate. At the last enrollment meeting, we had 160 attendees and with the possibility of establishing amendments, we feel there could be more attending. Given how contagious this virus is and the danger it poses to everyone, we must do everything we can to help decrease the spread to the community.
Finally, I’d like to add that we cannot wash our hands too many times during this outbreak. We should avoid close contact with people that are sick, follow the rule of 3’ (feet) and try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces often with approved sanitizer and again, if you feel sick, stay home.
I sincerely apologize for this cancelation; I was looking forward to the meeting. Please feel free to reach out to me or any other Tribal Council member should you have any questions. Tribal Council will be monitoring the outbreak and, if and when we feel the danger has passed, we will set another date to discuss proposed amendments.
Joseph P. Rupnick, Chairman
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation