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Reservation closure extended

The Colville Tribes extended the closure of the Colville Reservation to non-essential visitors until midnight on May 31, 2021, and started a curfew in the Keller District. 

Chairman for the Colville Tribes Rodney Cawston said in a Dec. 22 press release that the Keller District is “experiencing a severe outbreak of COVID-19 infections.”

As of Dec. 21, there are 15 active cases of COVID-19 in Keller and more people in quarantine while they await test results or to see if symptoms develop.

“It is absolutely necessary to impose this curfew to preserve the peace, health, safety, and welfare of the Reservation and all surrounding communities,” Cawston said. “This curfew will minimize in-person interactions, which is the primary way the virus spreads.” 

The extension of the full reservation closure was described in a Dec. 17 news release from the tribes. 

“The previous end-of-year closure date has been extended as part of the Colville Tribes’ ongoing effort to stall the spread of COVID-19 within the Colville Reservation,” the release says. 

“Access remains allowed for tribal members, non-member residents of the Reservation, employees of the Tribes, delivery, postal and food services, and other pre-approved essential services or outside agency personnel.” 

The Star asked tribal media contact Neeka Somday in an email why tribal casinos are considered essential services and received a reply with a statement from Colville Tribal Federal Corporation Chief Executive Officer Kary Nichols which says, “Our casinos are an essential tribal operation that helps support important government essential services.”

“The Facilities continue to adhere to stringent health and safety measures,” Somday’s email adds.

 “Those Covid-19 prevention measures can be found on the 12 Tribes Colville Casinos webpage under the news tab. (” 

The state highways on the Reservation also remain open to traffic passing through. These include Highways 155, 97, and 21.

Strict enforcement of general public health rules continues. Individuals must continue to comply with any public health orders they personally receive.

“The Colville Reservation continues to be threatened by a spike in COVID-19 cases,” said  tribal Chairman Rodney Cawston. “Like most other places in the country, the health emergency on the Reservation is as serious right now as it has been at any time of this ongoing crisis. Vaccines are beginning to be distributed and we hope that conditions might be safer by next summer. But right now we must redouble our efforts to keep our people safe until this pandemic has passed.”


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