Pull Together

A message from Suquamish Tribal Elders on the importance of pulling together during this most dangerous hour of the pandemic by doing everything we can to stay safely apart.


Suquamish Tribe Prepares Groundwork for Vaccine Distribution

Phased approach puts priority on most vulnerable

A Suquamish Tribe team headed up by Emergency Operations Manager Cherrie May is hard at work preparing for an unprecedented effort to vaccinate everyone in the Tribe who wants to be protected from COVID-19.

While there are still many unknowns, the Suquamish Tribe’s Vaccine Planning Committee drafted a vaccine distribution approach that was approved by the Tribal Council at their Nov. 23 meeting.

“The goal is to have a general approach in place so that when the vaccine arrives we are ready to hit the ground running as fast, efficiently, and safely as possible,” said May. “We’ve developed a phased approach that puts the priority on our most vulnerable Tribal members while keeping the government functioning so we can get the vaccine out to everyone else.”

The Vaccination Planning Committee includes May, the Suquamish Tribe’s Acting Co-Executive Director Jamie Goobie, Tribal Public Health Officer Dr. Barbara Hoffman, Tribal Attorney Melody Allen, Suquamish Chief Police Mike Lasnier, Early Learning Center Nurse Renee Hommel, and Communications Coordinator Jon Anderson.

“The Committee is working with a lot of uncertainty tied to the vaccines, but we have been doing our best to think through a variety of intertwining issues,” says May.

Among the questions, unknowns, and issues the Tribe is grappling with:

  • Which of the two leading vaccines the Tribe will decide to provide.
  • How many doses of the vaccine will the Tribe get initially and in follow-up batches.
  • The logistics of receiving, storing, and administering two doses of a vaccine to thousands of Tribal members, families, and employees.

The Pfizer vaccine, for example, is expected to be the first released for use, but is shipped only in large batches of doses and it must be stored at -80 degrees. Once thawed it must be kept cold and administered within six hours.  It also will require two doses to be effective

“Whether the Tribe will be able to access to this vaccine and be able to administer it has not been ruled out yet as we are stilling waiting on some answers from the Department of Health to some of these very questions,” says Hoffman, who was appointed as Tribal Health Officer by Tribal Council last month.

The Moderna vaccine is next in line for potential distribution and will likely begin to be available starting in January.

This vaccine also requires two shots but is easier to store and provides more time to administer once thawed, says Hoffman.

“Regardless of which vaccine the Tribe first receives, we do not expect to get a large number of doses in the first batch.  We also don’t know how many doses will be provided over time for mass vaccination,” says Hoffman.

Given all the unknowns, vaccine distribution will happen in phases, and Suquamish health officials will need flexibility to accommodate the uncertainties, she says.

“The approach is based on two key priorities – continuity of government and health vulnerability of Tribal members,” says Hoffman.

The first group, which is likely to be a small group, includes individuals needed to make sure the Tribal government can continue to operate – Tribal Council, for example – and high-risk essential employees who are in constant, direct contact with members of the community, particularly those who are especially vulnerable.

“So that would include nurses, in-home care providers for Elders, community health representatives, case managers and others in the direct line of fire who have been who are at high risk of exposure to the virus every day,” says Tribal Attorney Allen. “These are people who provide care to our most vulnerable.”

The next group includes all Tribal elders, as well as moderate-risk, but essential workers.

That group will be immediately followed by all remaining Tribal members and member households.

The last group to receive vaccinations will be remaining Tribal Government staff and Tribal Enterprise workers.

“We are still working out the logistics while not knowing when and how many doses the Tribe will receive,” said May. ”As we’ve been doing all along, we are planning with flexibility to avoid any logistical and/or medical problems and so we are ready to hit the ground running as soon as the vaccine is released.”

Tribal leaders urge anyone with questions or concerns to email Covid_Questions@suquamish.nsn.us

As the situation develops and more details become available, Tribal members will be notified via the Tribe’s website and Suquamish Updates Now (SUN). If you haven’t signed up yet, or need to update your information, you can do that here.

Give Thanks, Not COVID

Be a hero this holiday season, so we can all celebrate together in the seasons to come.
Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman, Treasurer Robin L.W. Sigo, and Councilman Sammy Mabe offer some words of encouragement as we head into this holiday season.

Suquamish Tribe Begins Preplanning COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

A newly formed preplanning group from the Suquamish Tribe’s Emergency Operations Center gathered online this week to begin early preparations for vaccination distribution to Tribal members and staff in the coming months.

Dubbed the COVID-19 Vaccine Planning Subcommittee, the task group consists of Suquamish Tribe Acting Co-Director Jamie Gooby, EOC Manager Cherrie May, Community Health Nurse Barbara Hoffman, Tribal Attorney Melody Allen, Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center School Nurse Renee Hommel, EOC Public Information Officer Jon Anderson, and Emergency Management Consultant Eric Quitslund.

The first meeting of the planning group focused on reviewing the Tribe’s Pandemic Response Plan, getting an overview of medical countermeasures, and beginning the work of assessing vaccination priority groups.

“At this point, there are still a lot of unknowns in terms when the first vaccine will be approved, when – and in what quantities – it will be available, and how it will need to be controlled and administered,” said May. “So, this first meeting was really centered on what kind of questions we need to be asking and what potential scenarios we need to be thinking through.”

Also of paramount concern is vaccine safety.

“We will be listening to and consulting with the medical and scientific experts we know and trust,” said Gooby. “That will play a big role in which vaccine Tribal Council ultimately opts to make available and when Tribal government decides to deploy it.”

Currently, there are 11 vaccines now in the final “Phase 3” level of testing, including four underway in the United States. Phase 3 testing for each potential vaccine involves some 30,000 volunteers, who take either the candidate vaccine or a placebo, across dozens of sites around the country.

Vaccines work by training your body’s natural defenses to recognize and fight off viruses.  “If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness,” according to the World Health Organization.

New rules from the Food and Drug Administration issued on Oct. 6, suggest the earliest the first COVID-19 vaccine might be approved for emergency use is mid to late November, with large-scale availability ramping up over several months after approval.

Suquamish Tribe’s Toolkit for Businesses

In response to the Suquamish Tribal Council’s facial covering policy (Resolution # 2020-104) and overall COVID–19 response, the Suquamish Tribe’s Emergency Operations Center would like to assist our Port Madison Indian Reservation businesses during this global public health emergency.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the social and economic vitality of our local community. But we can lessen these impacts and recover from this public health pandemic when business owners like yourself take steps to reduce your risk and take steps now to recover. Working collaboratively with employees, the public, and local government, businesses can help strengthen both public health and community response in a manner that protects us all.

To support this effort, the Suquamish Tribe’s Office of Emergency Management has compiled this tool kit of resources with links to useful tools that are drawn from the following authoritative sources:

Suquamish Tribal Government

Main Website

Face masks now required in public spaces on Reservation

Downloadable PDF of this tool kit


Kitsap Health District               

Main Website

The Role of Employers in Effective Contact Tracing

Kitsap County COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard


Kitsap County

Main Website

Kitsap County Pathway to Recovery Playbook


Washington State Department of Health

Main Website

Business Information for Administrators and Employees

Food Workers and Establishments Guidance on COVID-19

Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Staff and Visitors

Checklist for Businesses with Suspected or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

Guidelines for Grocery Stores

Guidelines for Grocery and Food Stores

Guidelines for Restaurants

Food Pantries Phase 2 Guidelines

Food Worker Employee Health & Decision Strategies

Safe Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance for Public Space


After You Are Done with Work

Be a Germ Buster. . .Wash Your Hands

Keep Them Clean

COVID-19 – General Information

COVID-19 Symptoms Poster


Washington State Coronavirus Response

Main Website

Safe Start: Business Guidance, County Status and What’s Open

Overview of COVID-19 Statewide Face Covering Requirements

FAQ for Businesses

Workplace safety guidance

Department of Labor Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19


Please wear a mask

Retail stores: general

“What does six feet look like?”

“We offer delivery”

“We offer pickup”

Product Limit sign 

Customer Capacity Limit sign 

Help keep Grocery store staff and customers safe

Workplace Safety

COVID-19 Phases 1 and 2 Workplace Safety and Health Requirements

Janitorial Safety Tip Sheet


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)     

Main Website

Resuming Business TOOLKIT

Considerations for Restaurants and Bars

Planning Guides & Checklists

Get Your Workplace Ready for Pandemic Flu

Get Your Mass Gatherings Ready for Pandemic Flu

Pandemic Flu Checklist: Workplace Administrators

Pandemic Flu Checklist: Event Planners


Slow the Spread of Germs

Don’t Spread Germs at Work (Employers)

Don’t Spread Germs at Work

Stay Home if You’re Sick (Employers)

Stay Home if You’re Sick


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Main website

COVID-19 Best Practice Information: Economic Recovery

FEMA Recovery & Economic Support

Public Assistance Disaster-Specific Guidance – COVID-19 Declarations

Face masks now required in public spaces on Reservation

The Suquamish Tribal Council approved a new resolution requiring a face covering in all public spaces on Port Madison Indian Reservation where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
This applies to areas including, but not limited to:
• Inside any Tribal-owned buildings, including any Tribal business, that are open to the public.
• Inside all other businesses open to the public.
• In healthcare settings, including Human Services Department, Wellness Department, and Health Benefits.
• While in or on a Tribal Government-owned boat with more than one occupant.
• While operating a Tribal Government-owned vehicle with more than one person.
• In outdoor public areas, including Tribal-owned and/or operated parks, trails, streets, sidewalks, lines for entry, exit, or service, and recreation areas, when a distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained from any non-household member.
This policy does not apply to children under five years old, although children two- to four-years-old are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in public when they are unable to maintain a six-foot distance from non-household members. Anyone with a medical or mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a mask is also exempt.
Face covering are not required in your own home, and – provided you can maintain a six-foot distance from others – while seated at a restaurant, while engaged in indoor or outdoor exercise activities, while in outdoor areas, among a few other specific exemptions.

Suquamish Tribal Court slated to resume operations June 8

The Suquamish Tribal Court announced it will tentatively resume regular operations on June 8.

In an update to its Emergency Administrative Order filed May 28, the Court said the reopening could be delayed “depending on the status of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

In the meantime, the Court  will continue to be available “to hear all matters of an urgent nature, including requests for all types of protection orders and emergency child welfare orders.”

Questions should be sent to the court clerks at suquamishcourt@suquamish.nsn.us or by calling (360) 394-8697.

You can read the full order here.


Suquamish Court Extends Modified Operations

The Suquamish Tribal Court extended its modified operations until at least May 15 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Court is striving to address the needs of the community, while taking every precaution to keep community members healthy and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” reads an updated Emergency Administrative Order, signed by Chief Judge Cindy K. Smith on April 30.

As part of the order, all criminal cases and jury trials are delayed until the court resumes normal operations, tentatively slated for May 18. This date, however, may be extended depending on the status of the public health emergency.

Meanwhile, all civil and child welfare cases have been rescheduled to June 2020.

The Court continues to be available “to hear all matters of an urgent nature, including requests for all types of protection orders and emergency child welfare orders.”

Any hearings will continue to be conducted via video teleconference.

Questions should be sent to the court clerks at suquamishcourt@suquamish.nsn.us or by calling (360) 394-8697.

The full order can viewed here.

Suquamish Tribe extends modified operations

The Suquamish Tribal Council has extended the order on Temporary Remote Tribal Government Operations until May 18, 2020.

This action was taken to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The full resolution can viewed here.

For information about how to contact Tribal government staff or obtain services during this time, please check here.

Tribal Court Orders Suspension in Payments

The Suquamish Tribal Court issued an Emergency Administrative Order this week that all court-ordered payment plans are now suspended through April and May.

“The Court is striving to address the needs of the community, while taking every precaution to keep community members healthy and prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” reads the order, signed by Chief Judge Cindy K. Smith on April 20. “Due to the pandemic, many people are not able to work and may be facing financial hardships.”

The order adds that those who had recently fallen behind on fishing fine payments, but were current as of March 1, will now be deemed current and will be able to obtain a sticker from the Court to show they are eligible to fish.

Those who were not current on their fishing fine payments as of March 1 are still not eligible to fish. However, Tribal members who get their payments up to date through March will be then be eligible.

The order also makes clear that the suspension of payments does not effect that total amount owed.

For more information email suquamishcourt@suquamish.nsn.us or call (360) 394-8697.

The full Emergency Order can be viewed here.