The To Do List for Reopening and Recovery…
Dear Members and Friends,
This week our offices, based on the updated, modified public health emergency order from the Governor of the State of New Mexico, opened at 25% pre-crisis staffing levels with remaining staff continuing to work from home. In preparation, I created a plan to re-open based on safety requirements and recommendations from the State of New Mexico and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) where our offices are located. 

It was a daunting process – with the safety and well-being of my staff being paramount throughout the process. We are now equipped with masks, thanks to a donation from Rachel Moreno , Vice President of our Board of Directors, and a large quantity of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, and are starting to return to our former workspaces.

As Native Nations and communities address COVID-19, they are also tasked with determining how and when to reopen their borders and their businesses - including tourism. Many of you are part of these discussions on a tribal, regional and national level. I am inspired by the work of our people to continue to address the health crisis, food insecurity and economic challenges. All this, while developing and implementing plans to manage the next phase of this crisis as we move to reopen tribal operations and enterprises. 

Jamie SiJohn (Spokane Tribal member and AIANTA Board Member for the Pacific Region) shared with us an example of how her Tribe has worked to provide health care and support for tribal members including the expansion of food bank distribution through their food bank – all while planning for the  May 14 reopening process for the Casino operations

The logistics are impressive! The planning included tribal leadership and tribal members utilizing the guidelines from Governor Inslee, the CDC, the Local Health District and guidelines outlined by the State and Federal Government. They also surveyed their guests to build a responsive model for reopening. In addition to modifications to space, they have implemented and communicated safety measures and cleaning protocols. Jamie noted, “Reopening tribal tourism per tribe is as unique as the tribe itself.” 

We also know that the solutions Native Nations and communities find as they work towards recovery will also be unique and innovative. For example, Camille Ferguson (Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal member and AIANTA At-large Board Member), is hopeful as her Tribe comes together to explore alternative economic opportunities and create resources for the community. This exploration has included a focus on sustainable food sources through commercial geothermal gardens with capacity to feed Sitka and other neighboring villages.  

As we look to each unique Native Nation working through this process, there is wisdom to be shared. As we face the challenges and find solutions, we can share this unique knowledge here . (Post your messages to our Facebook page .) With Native values and guidance, our To Do lists for reopening and recovery will not seem so daunting, and our shared journey will not be as long.  

Until We Meet Again,

Sherry L. Rupert, Chief Executive Officer
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA)