Updated: May 22, 2020 10:10 PM
Created: May 22, 2020 09:39 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Conditions on Zuni Pueblo are getting worse, tribal leaders said Friday.
About a month ago, KOB 4 reported that many on the pueblo feared a COVID-19 outbreak was coming. Now, they’re dealing with a growing number of cases and deaths.
Tribal leaders are pleading with people to stay safe.
Lt. Gov. Carleton Bowekaty says what’s happening in Gallup has been eye-opening -- an outbreak and lockdown in a place where many of his neighbors work and go shopping.
“We’re really trying to reinforce to our population that they really need to take this seriously,” he said.
The sad reality is, if elders die, valuable tribal knowledge is gone.
“We believe that we are resilient, that we’ll survive this, but you’re exactly correct, our fear is that we will lose inherent, traditional knowledge that our people have that sometimes I don’t even understand,” Bowekaty said.
The number of cases on Zuni Pueblo is growing. Ninety-eight people have tested positive. That means 1 in 100 people in the tribe have the virus.
Six people have died. Leaders say it’s cause for concern.
“It’s definitely frustrating because we are seeing that it does affect our elders the most. We have families that live in multi-generational homes,” Bowekaty said.
There are entire families that have gotten the virus, including ten people living inside one home.
It’s difficult for many to maintain social distancing, including during religious ceremonies. Bowekaty says they are trying.
“We believe there is a way to participate safely and that we can explore these options in a way that ensures that the more people that get through this pandemic, the better chance we have of capturing important cultural information,” he said.
Leaders are urging people to stay home and, if they need to be out, to wear a mask. There’s a curfew every night at 8. Folks leaving are limited to two people to a car, and leaders have increased the checkpoints.
Tribal leaders are asking for patience, and they say they’re optimistic they’ll get through the pandemic.
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