Temporary closure of Séliš-Ql̓ispé Longhouse for all uses

 

We are writing to inform the community that until further notice, the Séliš-Ql̓ispé Longhouse is closed for all purposes, including wakes and funerals. This action is taken due to some recent events at the Longhouse that raised the risk of spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus in the building and in our community. This happened at a time when we are already seeing a spike in the number of cases on the Flathead Reservation.

 

Therefore, in the event of a death, families are for the time being encouraged to use funeral homes in the area, or the family home as is done traditionally.

 

We regret having to take this measure. The Longhouse is a place at the heart of our culture and spirituality. During this time, we need these things more than ever. But we also must look after the health and safety of the community.

 

Since the CSKT implemented its shut-down in March, the Séliš-Ql̓lspé Culture Committee has allowed limited use of the Longhouse for wakes, with strict guidelines in place to minimize the risk to families using the facility, the wider community that they may interact with, elders, and SQCC staff who may from time to time need to use the building. These guidelines are posted in the Longhouse, and available on tribal websites. They include limitations on the length of wakes, the size of groups, social distancing, hand-washing, and operation of the kitchen. More recently, we have also posted Tribal Council policy for all tribal buildings requiring the use of masks.

 

Unfortunately, during recent wakes, these guidelines were ignored or violated, resulting in the need to have the building not only disinfected as we have been doing after each wake, but also fogged and then possibly inspected by a safety & sanitation officer. Once the Longhouse is properly cleaned and determined to be safe, we may need to put in place additional measures to ensure better compliance and protection of everyone's health before the building can be made available again for the community.

 

Again, we only take these steps out of our responsibility to our elders, our community, and our staff. The Covid-19 virus is extremely contagious and potentially deadly, especially to those with pre-existing conditions. Younger healthy people can also get the virus and succumb to it. People who have no apparent symptoms can transmit the virus without realizing it. Even people who get the virus and survive are in many cases left with long-term debilitating conditions, such as permanent lung damage. Covid-19 is nothing to fool around with.

 

Yet it is also clear that if we take appropriate and quick action, we can succeed in slowing and even stopping the spread of the virus. That is why we are temporarily closing the Longhouse for all uses.

 

We look forward to being able to again allow use of the Longhouse for wakes. We will send out a notice at that time.

 

Lemlmtš to all for your understanding, support, and prayers. We must do our best to stay unified during this challenging period. You all are in our prayers, and we hope you are doing everything to stay safe and, as in keeping with our cultural values, to protect one another. Please don't hesitate to call or email me with any questions.

 

Sincerely,

Tony Incashola

Director, Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee

406-250-3499 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.