COVID-19 has had a reverberating effect on our tribe and community as a whole. The pandemic has changed the predictability of the workforce, supplies and resources. Operating hours and standard operating procedures have changed to keep our team members and community safe.
Cherokee Nation has remained steadfast in its efforts to prioritize the health and safety of its tribal citizens, team members and guests above all else. We’re working with our partners at the state and federal levels to help the communities within our reservation and build back the local economy.
At the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), we have been fortunate to have an incredible team helping us navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic. The past year has required a lot of flexibility, creativity and perseverance.
This crisis has impacted our tribe considerably. About 140 of our members are elders, and many of them rely on the income generated from our gaming enterprise.
COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of the Community – everything from economic activity, community activity, to managing the public health crisis. Overall, there have been 23 deaths and nearly 588 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Through courses with the Emergency Management Institute and other opportunities through FEMA, we’ve been able to lay down the groundwork to assist our members during the COVID-19 situation.
COVID-19 has impacted us financially, socially, physically, and emotionally. We have had the challenge of paying bills and taking care of our tribal members as well as employees, when no revenue was coming in due to business closures.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and its aftermath, our tribe and casino continue to be successful in addressing the needs and desires of our customer base on a day-to-day basis. As a result, we have been able to navigate the first four months of 2021 successfully.
Some of the biggest challenges we face as an organization are the increased cost of supplies, services, and fuel that we see in the economy today.
There have been many challenges in 2021, namely staffing and keeping our community safe; but, there have also been opportunities as it relates to CARES and ARPA funds. Tribal nations have never witnessed such a large investment into Indian Country and it is unlikely that we will ever see this again in our lifetime.