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Chief Standing Bear declares state of emergency and sends non-essential personnel home

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear declared a Public Health State of Emergency on March 19. Following that declaration, all non-essential Osage Nation employees were directed to work from home.

All doors to Osage Nation campus buildings, except for the Wahzhazhe Health Center, are closed to the public.

“The office buildings are closed but we are still open by telephone and email. We have essential staff working in the buildings and most others are working from home,” Standing Bear said. “We have just restricted access to buildings. Except for the Wahzhazhe Health Center, which is open but has the Triage tent and controls in place.”

The state of emergency will continue at a minimum until April 6, if not longer, he said. Any personnel over the age of 60 or with underlying immune deficiencies were sent home as non-essential employees.

The Nation’s directors have been planning for the closure while the Nation’s workforce is reduced. According to a March 19 email from Director of Operations Casey Johnson, the Nation has put in place a risk mitigation measure that covers the community, the public, schools, and elders.

“Essential services will be reduced to minimal manpower necessary to continue to provide services to our people, the core function of our government,” Johnson wrote in the email.

The following list are Essential departments whose doors are locked but have minimal personnel. Contact information for these departments is listed on the Osage Nation’s website.   

Essential departments

·       Community Health Representatives – will work as needed anywhere they are called

·       Grants – Director working

·       Compliance – Director working

·       Education Department – Director and Program Coordinator will be available via phone or email for scholarship purposes

·       Receiving – two personnel on site 

·       Historic Preservation – staffing as required for site monitoring and archeological assessments

·       Department of Natural Resources – two staff available for environmental assessments as necessary

·       Bird Creek Farms – minimal staffing to ensure planting season continues

·       Elder Nutrition – continue to take out meals and inbound delivery as needed

·       Tribal Development – personnel available to continue monitoring projects in process

·       Roads Department – staff available to continue monitoring projects in process

·       Housing – minimal personnel

·       Food Distribution – minimal personnel

·       Child Support – minimal personnel

·       WIC – minimal personnel

·       Real Estate Services – minimal personnel

·       Social Services – minimal personnel

·       Tribal Works – personnel essential to continue operations throughout the Nation

·       IT – minimal personnel

·       ONPD – remains fully operational

·       Emergency Management – remains fully operational

·       Treasury – minimal personnel

·       Tax Commission – minimal personnel

·       Wildland Fire – remains fully operational

·       Membership – minimal personnel

·       Human Resources – minimal personnel

·       Public Health Nursing – remains fully operational

·       Financial Assistance – limit staff to two personnel onsite

·       Family Violence – minimal personnel

·       Language – continue online services if applicable

·       Culture – continue online services if applicable

·       Attorney General’s Office – minimal personnel

·       Gaming Commission – minimal personnel

Non-Essential – All personnel at home

·       Archives

·       Prevention

·       Fitness Centers

·       Head Start

·       WELA

·       Daposka Ahnkodapi

·       Strategic Planning

·       Visitors Center

·       Museum

·       Communications

·       Child Care



Shannon Shaw Duty

Original Publish Date: 2020-03-20 00:00:00


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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty is the editor of the Osage News. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a master's degree in Legal Studies, Indigenous Peoples Law from the OU College of Law. She served on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) from 2013-2016 and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee from 2017-2020. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED). In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive the Elias Boudinot Free Press Award, NAJA’s highest honor. An Osage tribal member, she and her family are from the Grayhorse District. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and six children.

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