LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — Nevada’s 27 federally-recognized tribes are working to protect members from the spread of COVID-19, instituting safety plans and receiving federal aid for supplies, food and personal protective equipment.
Communities want to protect their loved ones, and especially their elders who are considered the gatekeepers of their culture, language, oral history and traditions.
“We often have to rely on libraries or other sources for historical information, but the elders know, or it was told to them,” said Cliff Banuelos of the Intertribal Council of Nevada.
The consequences are not only tragic, but dire for their communities if one of their revered elders are lost.
The council helps tribes work with the federal government to submit action plans, which include stay at home orders, social distancing, and restriction of access to reservations.
Those plans lead to aid from federal officials for PPE and supplies.
“Social distancing is a big part of it, food is a big part of it. Now we are really rolling out masks to the communities,” he said.
Banuelos said funds from the CARES Act are helping tribes survive financial losses from shelter-in-place measures. Revenue from gas stations, cannabis shops and smoke shops are all at stake.
Banuelos said it’s important to provide resources to the most rural tribes, furthest from hospitals.