RAPID CITY — The Oyate Health Center is reporting 13- new cases of COVID-19.
In her weekly briefing, Jerilyn Church, CEO of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, provides updated COVID-19 statistics and shares thoughts on the death of George Floyd.
“Hanpetu Waste Mitakuyapi, Taŋyáŋ yahípi Jerilyn LeBeau Church emáčiyapi. Cante waste nape ciyuzapo.
For the past month, each week, we have shared information with the community regarding the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus. Since our last statement, OHC has confirmed 13 new positives out of 41 tests, representing a total of 72 positive cases out of 348 tests that have been conducted.
This past week, we were reminded of another proliferation that threatens our wellbeing. Our country has witnessed the proliferation of trauma, both historical and current beginning with the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Many of our native brothers and sisters share in the grief and mourning of his death.
This sorrow is at a time when our Oyate is struggling to meet the needs of children and elders and to stay healthy. We are reminded of our history of injustices. We recognize the failures of systems that, for far too long, have perpetuated indignity and foster oppression in our communities. We acknowledge that the oppression harms our people, other people of color, and harms our society as a whole.
There have been many peaceful protests across the country that reflect the moral conscience of most. These peaceful protests have been eclipsed by anger and rage that could no longer be contained, resulting in riots. As Lakota, we understand that anarchy is a reflection of long-term neglect of a government that has forgotten its people.
We understand that change is needed; this is no new news to our families that struggle to survive. We recognize that the systems that are supposed to serve justice fail us and that systems designed to provide resources to keep our community well has failed us.
These conversations need to happen, not to change the minds of those that have benefited from the status quo because their minds will never be changed. But instead, these conversations need to happen to change the systems, so they genuinely reflect equality for all. These critical conversations cannot happen amid the destruction. We must remember that riots are not designed to build; they are designed to destroy.
We, as Lakota people, do not need more destruction; we have strived to survive long enough amidst destruction. What is required is that our energy is directed to build up infrastructure to serve our people, not towards destruction.
The voices of peaceful protest must be heard, and the fiery rage that dwells within must be directed to build what we want for our families and community. We must not mistake riot for revival, and we need revival. Our society is crying for revolution, but we need a revolution that fosters renewal. A revolution that renews comes in the form of peaceful protest, getting out to vote at local elections, caring for ourselves, and caring for one another. We need a revolution that comes in the form of personal and emotional recovery so we can stand up strong and healthy, in the full expression of our Lakota values.
We support our young people to let your voices be heard, but do not engage in that which destroys, or will bring you or others harm, for you are needed for this revolution of renewal. And we remind you, that we are taught as Lakota, that true power is guided by the spiritual practice of our culture.
Please be safe, be peaceful,
Han, Mitakuye Oyasin”