Crow tribe puts up road-side checkpoints to curb travel to reservation

Posted at 8:15 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 16:14:15-04

BILLINGS — Officials with the Crow tribe set up five road-side safety checkpoints over the weekend to stop non-tribal members from fleeing the COVID-19 pandemic to stay on the Crow reservation, tribal officials said in a Facebook video Monday.

The Crow tribe has no reported cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, and tribal officials said that's the reason some people from out of state have come to tribal land to park their RVs and campers.

In another Facebook video update on Sunday, Not Afraid spoke of an individual from Maine with an RV who had to be asked to move along.

“We said, well, you could continue on the interstate, but you can not stay on the Crow Reservation without any family or ownership within the residences there. We do have people coming in with campers and staging up, but we professionally and kindly asked them to keep moving on down the road,” Not Afraid said.

According to tribe Incident Commander Thomas Ten Bear, the checkpoints are located around the, “Two Legged area, and also the St. Xavier area … along with one in the water tower area here in Crow, one at the Good Luck Road turnout from Lodge Grass, also another safety check point was put in Pryor.”

Travel on Interstate 90 through the Crow reservation remains open.

On Friday, Crow Tribe Chairman A.J. Not Afraid Jr. issued a "stay at home" order consistent with orders issued previously from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Not Afraid's order shut down all non-essential reservation businesses, prohibited public gatherings, and urged tribe members to stay at home among other rules.

Part of the function of the checkpoints is to educate people about the contents of Not Afraid's order.

"Basically we are requiring people to adhere to the orders that have been put out by the governor, (Big Horn County) and also the tribe. And just informing them as to what is in those orders so everybody will be safe and avert the coronavirus issue," Ten Bear said in the Monday Facebook video.

To read the full executive order from Not Afraid, click here.

Non-tribal members who own property and homes on the reservation are still allowed access to them.

Under Not Afraid's order, tribal members are still allowed to leave their homes for "essential activities" like going to the grocery store, pharmacy, to take care of family members or livestock and for types of work deemed essential.

Similar to Bullock's order, tribal members are allowed to leave their homes for outdoor recreation including hiking, biking, hunting or fishing.