Char-Koosta News

PABLO — The Flathead Nation Fall Quarterly was another truncated event, sans an audience in the Tribal Council Chambers, and with a few Tribal Council members on hand and the rest were on Zoom. The adaptions are related to COVID-19 precautions. 

Opening prayer by QÍispé Elder Stephen SmallSalmon

“I asked Grandfather to help us out today with everything, the virus...,” SmallSalmon said. “And let us have a good meeting today and talk from our hearts.” 

The Yamncut Drum then sang the Flag Song 

Elder Speak

SmallSalmon in his Elders Speak comments praised the Tribal Council on its handling of the coronavirus, and the advice given to him by his dad, Mitch SmallSalmon, and Pete Beaverhead.

“We’re not taking care of this world — the Creator is mad at us — so we got to take care of ourselves, and clean up this world, it’s not going right…,” SmallSalmon said of the advice that was given to him long ago by Beaverhead and his dad about times like now when a lot of people would die, adding, “It’s here, the virus is here. It’s killed a lot of people and that’s why I say, let us wear a mask… it’s not a little thing, it’s your life.”  

Tribal Council Updates

• Ronan District Tribal Council Representative Carole Lankford offered praise the Tribal Council for working hard for the tribal people under the leadership of Chairwoman Shelly Fyant.

“Every day, I see us working hard to really try to make a difference for our people. We know they’re struggling at times. We try to do whatever we can to try to make it easier for them.” Lankford said. “I’m really proud of the Council and how they stepped up and try to make some big changes. One of the biggest changes is customer service and it is the easiest change, and it’s, customer service, answering the phone and coming to work on time because we work for the people… We got to do that.” 

• Pablo District Tribal Council Representative Martin Charlo said his focus has been the coronavirus, and used a power point presentation to illuminate the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases since July.

“We’re the only ones that are here now, the tourist are gone. We got to buckle down,” he said, adding that the cases on the Flathead Reservation and Lake County have spiked since July 4th the holiday. He also advised people to vote.

• Arlee District Tribal Council Representative James “Bing” Matt discussed the effects of the coronavirus and its effects on all that includes school aged children as well as giving kudos to the CSKT Legal Department and Enterprises.

• St. Ignatius District Tribal Council Representative Ellie Bundy-McLeod gave kudos to the tribal employees for following safe work precaution protocols; discussed the Missing and Murder Indigenous People issue with the U.S. House of Representatives passing of the Savannah’s Act the will address the MMIP, and the Not Invisible Act that focuses on missing or murder Indigenous women, both bills are awaiting the signature of the president. The CSKT have been picked for a pilot program related to the issues.  

• Dixon District Tribal Council Representative Anita Matt discussed the employees working at home during the shut-down and those essential workers; COVID-19 assistance Food Assistant Program and the Dixon Agency post and pole mill clean-up .

• St. Ignatius District Tribal Council Representative Fred Matt expressed his coronavirus concern related to some people and businesses not taking precautionary measures seriously.

“Some people don’t get it; some businesses don’t require masks. I think our Tribes are taking the high road,” Matt said. “The governor says this is not over. I applaud the Tribal Council for the steps they’ve taken, every one of the steps, are necessary.”

• Polson District Tribal Council Representative Charmel Gillin said she prays for the other Tribal Nations in Montana and the Dakotas who are experience spikes in their citizens getting infected by the coronavirus.

Gillin commended Rick Eneas and Zachery Conko-Camel for their work on the COVID-19 relief funding dispensing of funds to the tribal membership and various other programs for their work during these trying times. She advocated for increased funding for CSKT Law Enforcement and NRD for its Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation program to ensure more protection of access to tribal lands; and keeping reapportionment on the table.

• Hot Springs District Tribal Council Representative Michael Dolson praised the Legal Department for their work for the betterment of the Flathead Nation, and Tribal Council’s response to the coronavirus and the job done by frontline line workers delivering services to the membership.

• Tribal Council Chairwoman Shelly Fyant praised the work done with the CARES funding in coming up with 10 ways to expend the funds, and is following an amendment to the Title IV Act. It relates to students seeking a college degree or preparing students for gainful employment in a recognition occupation. Fyant said she is advocating for a seat at the planning table. 

Steve Lozar Honoring

Legal Department attorney Dan Decker spoke about Steve Lozar’s 40-year career with the CSKT, that includes the last eight years with the Legal Department. 

That was followed by comments from the Tribal Council and others in the limited attendance quarterly. 

“My wife and my family are my first loves,” Lozar said. “The tribal people are next. Thank you.”

He was then gifted with a Pendleton blanket, and an Honor Song by Yamncut Drum.

Chairwoman Fyant added that Vi Trahan has also retired after nearly 50 years of service to the CSKT. “We couldn’t plan anything for Vi because we know she wouldn’t show up,” she said, about the ever reticent Vi. 

Economic Development 

Economic Development Program Director Velda Shelby delivered an update some of the program’s projects, including the small business grants for tribal members. Economic Development received $1 million from COVID-19 relief funds. She said Nov. 15, was the deadline for applying for funding, then added or until the funds are exhausted.

Tribal member owned small businesses are eligible to apply for up to $20,000 to help stabilize their operations. There are other grants for other components of business operations.

Shelby advised tribal members business owners to contact members of the Economic Development’s advisory committee for assistance. They are: Tina Begay, Greg Dumontier, James Bible and Steve Clairmont. 

COVID-19 funds update

Rick Eneas, Administration Account manager, gave an overview of the dispensing of the COVID-19 relief funds. He said that 90 percent (7,461) of the tribal members received the $1,875 individual relief checks. 

Presently there are 553 that haven’t applied. He advised them to call 275-2726 or check the CSKT website for more information. The deadline is Oct. 29.  

People’s Center

People’s Center manager Marie Torosian updated the arson caused for that severely damaged the building and much of its contents. Some were damaged beyond salvation while many others were less damaged and can be restored. 

Tribal Education Department

TED Director Michelle Mitchell gave a bit of an overview of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes COVID Youth Community Care and Awareness Campaign that TED is overseeing. She praised the young folks and Chief Cliff Drum for their videos, and videographer Coulter Allstad.

During subject changes at the quarterly the youth COVID-19 outreach effort videos were played. They featured Arnie Mendoza, Shadow Devereaux, Vinnie Bird Webster, the Pete Sisters, the Chief Cliff Drum and Sheadyn Croft.

Mitchell said 400 educators signed up for the annual PIR education program overseen by TED. It was a Zoom event that the public can access on Oct. 18.


Rob McDonald, Communications officer, discussed the 2020 Census effort that ends Oct. 31. The Census takers were at the drive-through flu event and collected counts from 110 householders. He added that he would work on a youth outreach video ala the youth COVID-19 outreach effort, and will work with TED Director Michelle Mitchell.

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