By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The Northern Arapaho Tribe is requiring its employees who are eligible for the coronavirus booster shot to get the extra vaccination.
Jordan Dresser, the chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, told Cowboy State Daily that the booster shot was mandated last month to make sure all of the tribe’s services remained available to its members.
He added that only one employee left the tribe’s employment in the face of the mandate.
One of two sovereign American Indian tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Fremont County, the NAT government owns several businesses, including the Wind River Hotel and Casino, which has roughly 500 employees.
The tribe also owns the Wind River Family and Community Healthcare clinic, convenience stores, the Arapaho Ranch and other businesses.
The NABC is the executive governing body of the tribe. It also has many legislative powers.
NAT Public Health Officer Dr. Paul Ebbert said that the loss of employees at the Wind River Cares medical clinic was worse back in September, when the tribe issued its original mandate for employees to take the first available vaccinations.
Some clinic workers walked away, Ebbert said.
“We did lose some staff” last fall, he said.
“And I don’t know about the tribe, but (they didn’t lose) very many,” he added. “In the end most people got their vaccine.”
The employee losses hurt operations at the clinic “a little bit,” Ebbert said.
But since then, “We’ve increased our pay to nurses to try and recruit and retain them,” he said.
Ebbert said the strain of the pandemic also could be prompting nurses to leave the profession.
Shoshone Tribe Not Mandating
The Eastern Shoshone Tribe, which also occupies the Wind River Indian Reservation, has not mandated COVID vaccines for its employees, but has continued a practice of weekly testing.
However, buildings run by the EST have been limited 50 percent of capacity — 25 percent if found noncompliant of 50 percent capacity requirement.
The Intertribal Business Council, made up of both tribes’ governing councils, still has an indoor mask mandate throughout the reservation, and still has a vaccine order in place for employees under the governance of both tribes.