As with my last address, the world’s focus continues to be on the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). It fills every media outlet and can consume our daily thoughts and actions. We have a unique community with a rich cultural background. We are people who give thanks and gratitude daily. I am going to focus this address on the many things that we can be grateful for.
In my March 12, 2020 press release, in response to a report of a non-Seneca employee of the Seneca Nation Health System testing positive for COVID-19, the Seneca Nation Health Systems were temporarily closed. That closure could have put our services on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Professionals from the medical, technical, task force and administrative fields worked together to get the services restored. They collaborated to address needs that suddenly became difficult to navigate such as, Pharmacy, Optical, Dental, Seneca Strong and Behavioral Health. They provided solutions for those services and were instrumental in continuing to provide daily medical services to the community. I cannot thank these people enough for doing everything they could to ensure these critical services remain available to our people.
Our territories are very fortunate to have highly respected medical-emergency, fire, and security forces. They endure many hours, weeks, months and sometimes years to become fully trained to provide the services we need. The facilities from which they are housed, are state-of-the-art and are the envy of surrounding communities. The COVID-19 has placed a new, invisible danger on this group of individuals that now, more than ever puts them directly in harm’s way. Even, with this looming fear, they remain persistent and dutiful. I am grateful for their continued service.
Gak:wi:yoh Farms has become a beacon of hope and life within our communities. Some of the highlights that I think of are; planting which brings a sense of renewed life, gathering of newly sprouted medicines, hunting and fishing, preserving and canning foods, and the connection with the earth that many of us may have lost. Gak:wi:yoh Farms has been diligently preparing for times such as this. I encourage you to connect with this valuable department to engage or learn more about what our people have historically done to care for their needs.
Now more than ever, we can connect with people without physical contact. It is one of Seneca Nation’s greatest accomplishments that we now have Seneca people that can speak and are willing to teach others. Speaking the language is one thing that keeps the Seneca people strong and identified as a Nation. We have several language programs to plug in to. Use this opportunity to learn as a family the language that we could have lost forever.
One cannot deny the beauty of our territories. The rolling hills, woodlands, water sources and four seasons are a marvelous wonder to the many tourists that visit our lands. Look at our lands with a tourist’s eye. Take refuge in the nature that we are so honored to call our own. Listen to the thunders, rainfall, peepers, and birds. In China, they have heard birds for the first time in many, many years because of the loss of noise and air pollution. I am thankful that we can still enjoy our birds, animals, fishes, and plants.
Finally, people are our greatest asset. Stay connected by phone, safe outdoor activities, writings, drawings, mail, or any other creative way. Culturally, we are close-knit. We have always protected one another. This will not divide us. Because we are #SENECASSTAYSAFE!!
Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr., President
P.S. Please remember to practice these protocols in place for your safety.
• Stay home as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel.
• Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. A non-Seneca employee of the Seneca Nation Health System has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus
• Practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart from others, especially those who are sick.
• Most important, call your healthcare provider if you are sick or have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition.