Organizations oppose Governor’s order to relax restrictions on recreational activities
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Today, a group of tribal and nonprofit organizations across Minnesota have joined together to send a letter to Governor Walz urging him to protect rural and Native communities from the high risk of COVID-19 exposure that comes with increased recreational tourism.
Governor Walz’s April 17 executive order relaxes the state’s Stay-at-Home directive for golfing, fishing, and boating, allowing these industries to open weeks before the Stay-at-Home order is set to be lifted on May 4th.
The letter warns that reopening boating and fishing operations will increase the risk of urban-to-rural transmission of COVID-19 — and in particular, endanger the health of Minnesota’s tribal communities. The letter cites proximity to these activities, healthcare access, and high rates of preexisting conditions as risk factors for Minnesota’s Native American population:
“We recognize that fishing and boating are both industries that are central to our rural economies. But we need to ensure that our rural and tribal communities are just as protected as folks in urban centers, until the Stay-At-Home order is fully lifted. The risks are much too high and our most vulnerable people would be paying the price.”
Vera Allen, a Minnesota farmer who was born and raised on the Navajo reservation, expressed her fear and frustration at Governor Walz’s decision. After New York and New Jersey, the Navajo Nation has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S. She knows how quickly an outbreak can spread through a reservation.
“With beauty before me, I walk. With beauty behind me, I walk. With beauty below me, I walk. This is the Navajo way, my people have instilled this conscience in our children for a thousand years. We have an opportunity to be good relatives and save people who are 2% of the world’s population from this threat of extinction, let us act with beauty all around us and make this small sacrifice so that Minnesota Natives won’t suffer what is happening on the Navajo Nation.”
Vera Allen, 763.222.7034
Willa Childress, 503.739.5195