We now know just how devastating this virus, known as COVID-19, has been to the country, our communities and our people. As an organization whose constituents are the most vulnerable among us — the elderly, we empathize and mourn the knowledge, wisdom and insight that has been lost to this silent but deadly virus.
It is not a selective virus; it has also taken the lives of young people — young people who were destined to be the next generation of parents, leaders and repositories of the culture, language and traditions of their people. To the families and friends of those whose voices have forever been silenced, we extend our condolences, prayers and wishes for peace and strength. Let us remember them well and pray for their peaceful journey to their ancestors.
For those who are remaining, remember our elderly for they are our source of strength and resilience. Let us care for them, protect them and honor them not only during these trying times, but in the days and years to come. We can only ask that you remain hopeful and look forward to the day when we can once again live free of the fear of this deadly stranger; a virus that is not welcomed among us.
Like many people, I am concerned and at times fearful of this stranger. But I know those feelings are natural; what gets me through the day is knowing that this moment and this time will pass. It will pass.
I know I will see that day, but in order to do that, I must take care of myself, my family and those with whom I work. It is a personal responsibility that I have to you, my family, my colleagues and my community. During this time, please take care of yourselves, your elderly and the vulnerable people in your community. Listen to and abide by what your tribal leaders, health officials and traditional leaders are saying so you all can see that new day.
To those on the frontline: tribal leaders, healthcare providers, emergency medical technicians, community health representatives, law enforcement and Title VI program directors and staff — our appreciation and gratitude. Your dedication and love for your tribe and your elders are exemplified every day that you are in the field helping your communities. You are the warriors protecting your people and communities.