Government , Health

Osage Nation Principal Chief tests positive for COVID-19

Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have a headache; I have a major headache. I feel a little soreness, a little muscle ache. My breathing is fine, no digestive problems, I just ate lunch. Someone brought out a Title VI Thanksgiving Dinner to go, and it was delicious. I just ate half of it,” he said over the phone on Nov. 6. “Between my computer and my phone, I don’t feel very isolated. I’ve been on the phone all day.”

He said he took a rapid test at the Wahzhazhe Health Center on Monday, Nov. 2. It came back negative. “I guess I’m part of that 10 percent that gets a false negative on the rapid tests,” he said. He requested a two-day test to be sent to a lab and was notified on Nov. 5, that test came back positive.

“My quarantine ends on Nov. 12. I am told that it begins on the day you took your test and if you’re positive, it’s 10 days from the day you took your test. If you’re exposed, it’s 14 days,” he said. He’s been in contact with the WHC’s contact tracer and already has had his interview about who he has been in contact with in the past 72 hours prior to his first test.

Standing Bear said only two Executive Branch employees have been quarantined due to exposure. Most of his staff and Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn were already out of the office on leave last week. Standing Bear said it will be business as usual until his return.

He didn’t have to reschedule any in-person appearances or meetings because due to the pandemic, all of his meetings and conferences have been on Zoom, he said. In fact, he recently had a Zoom conference with officials from the U.S. federal reserve and officials from New Zealand and Canada about Indigenous policies. The U.S. federal reserve is studying how to assist in investments in Indian Country and has asked Standing Bear to help with writing policies for that practice. He said the U.S. plans to follow the models used for the Maori of New Zealand and the First Nations of Canada.

When asked what he plans to do in his downtime while he is isolated in his room, he said he plans to study Wahzhazhe I.E., the Osage language.

“I’m going to actually get caught up on Osage language. I brought everything I have and as soon as I finish up all these issues I’m currently working on, I’m going to go on the internet and look at all the Osage language broadcasts that I’ve been missing,” he said. “I told my staff I’ll be back, and I’ll be speaking more Wahzhazhe.”