I hope everyone is staying safe and practicing Covid-19 pandemic health protocols. I realize it’s difficult to remember to grab a facemask each time when going out in public, but for your own safety and the safety of others – please continue to do so. It’s a small, but important act which can help to prevent the loss of lives in our communities. With recent news of restrictions easing in our communities, we must continue to practice all safety protocols until medicine is made available or a vaccine is developed. Wearing face masks may become part of our new normal, which will need to adjust to.
For any of our members whom have driven the streets of Salamanca lately, you probably have noticed the banners for the “Salamanca Hometown Heroes” which are being displayed along Broad, Clinton and Wildwood. This project was created by the Salamanca Flag Pride Program and if you slow down a bit, you will notice there are several Seneca Nation veterans being honored, as well.
As plans for our gradual and well thought out phased re-opening is being considered and put into motion, we must balance public health with all available safety measures for our communities and for the public. I’m glad to announce, on Friday, May 22nd, our Highbanks Campground opened for the 2020 season and seasonal camping is allowed on Seneca Nation Territories. We will re-open in phases and continue to progress. We plan to be at approximately 60% operations by the middle of June. Stay tuned for further developments about the phased re-opening plans.
In these unprecedented times we are living in, we have had to accept that we simply cannot gather in large, crowds for events such as high school graduations. This does not mean we cannot overcome and recognize our graduates. I’ve learned that our Seneca Nation Education Department and the surrounding area administrations have designed several social distancing events to honor our graduates. Some will be showing pre-recorded videos of congratulatory remarks and some will be doing a drive through diploma pick-up; and I’ve even heard of some driving parades. I’m so glad that our graduates will still be honored, as graduating from high school is a great accomplishment and will help as you move forward in your lives. My congratulations go out to each and every one of our approximately one hundred eighteen 2020 Seneca graduates!
I would like to ask that we all continue keep the Allegany family, with multiple members whom are dealing with the Covid-19 virus, in our thoughts. The difficulties that family is facing, is simply unimaginable.
I keep hearing in the media that we need to be prepared for a possible second wave of this virus. I recommend that our community members do not let your guards down, just yet. We must continue to be vigilant and we must continue to be as prepared as we can, should a second wave hit our communities. Keep your cupboards stocked up and reach out to our Tribal Advocate Office, should you find the need. We are going to get through this with patience and perseverance. This first wave has taught us that we need to be ready and prepared with PPE, safety equipment and to strive to be self-sustaining.
Continue to enjoy this warm weather, even if it brings the mosquitoes. Behave appropriately, so we can make it to the other side of this COVID-19 pandemic and continue on our journey to be good caretakers of our land and one another.
Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.