A Grand Portage update from Tribal Chair Beth Drost
During the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, WTIP Community Radio has been checking in with local government officials to learn more about the community response to the virus. Among those community leaders is Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Chair Beth Drost, who spoke to WTIP’s Rhonda Silence on Monday, April 27.
Chair Drost spoke about the planning that is just beginning for the reopening of the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. No date has been set yet, as opening depends on state guidelines, as well as the loosened travel from Canada. However, management is looking at changes to operations when that day comes.
The situation is the same for the Grand Portage campground, adjacent to the small boat marina. Drost said there are many details yet to be worked out.
Drost said she is appreciative of how the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes are working together, learning from each other, during this time. She also noted that Minnesota is the only state in the nation that has state and tribal meetings daily. Drost said Grand Portage is grateful for the leadership of Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and their recognition of the need for involvement from Tribal governments, such as Grand Portage.
WTIP asked about the numerous media reports that COVID-19 has hit native communities, such as the Navajo Nation in the west, especially hard. Drost said that is why that work with the State has been important. Grand Portage and other tribes are there to advocate for their people.
Drost also spoke about the difficulty for the community to not be able to hold its usual family and community gatherings. She talked about the CACHE Project (Community Agriculture through Culture, Health and Education) and how helpful that has been. At CACHE Project gatherings, the community learned about catching, cleaning, and pickling fish; snaring rabbits; and more. She said now is the time that those old ways to be put to use.
Drost summed things up by encouraging the community to stay home and continue as they have been. She said with zero COVID-19 cases in Cook and Lake counties, it seems to be working. She said, “Take care of yourselves and stay healthy…and stay home.”