By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Four members of the Northern Arapaho tribe died Monday due to complications from the coronavirus, a tribal official confirmed Tuesday morning.
In an 8-minute video streamed to Facebook on Tuesday morning, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter extended his condolences to the family members of the four people who passed away.
Two of the victims were elderly. All four had tested positive for the virus and died at various points on Monday.
“These tribal members were our family members, but we can’t mourn together,” Spoonhunter said in the address. “Because of the restrictions put in place, we can’t mourn together and give our people the traditional Arapaho protocols.”
These four deaths now bring Wyoming’s coronavirus fatality count up to six, tripling the count in just one day. As of press time Tuesday, 317 cases of the virus had been confirmed in the state.
Following his confirmation of the deaths, Spoonhunter then pivoted to address the tribe’s younger members, reminding them to stay home and continue practice social distancing.
“Many of you refuse to consider safeguards and you’re putting your family at risk,” he said. “Don’t be out in public places, possibly exposing yourself and your loved ones to a deadly disease.”
While Spoonhunter agreed that it was difficult to continue self-isolating, the difference could mean life or death for the elderly and high-risk tribe members.
“Our story is a story of perseverance,” Spoonhunter said. “Please do your part to preserve our story as we work to protect our people.”
Gordon also extended condolences to the deceased’s family members, adding that these four deaths are poignant examples of how insidious the virus is and how it can show up in the most unexpected places.
“No one expected it to show up in Lander, at a senior care center of all places,” the governor said. “There was no idea how it got there and immediately it had spread because of how contagious this is. We’ve got to be cautious.”