Photo Credit: 
Neely Tsoodle | Kiowa Tribe Public Relations

The Kiowa Tribe recently hosted a groundbreaking event and cedar blessing ceremony on the tribe’s sacred dance and activity grounds for a new COVID-19/senior activity center in Carnegie.

Tribal elder and leader Daniel Cozad performed the cedar blessing, praying over the grounds and asking for blessings and cleansing of the area. Construction on the new building will begin in early January and is expected to last about nine months, the tribe said in a new release. The new building has not been named yet.

The building will be located behind the tribal complex and just west of the dance and activity grounds, according to the news release. When it is completed, the 20,000-square-foot building will include a conference room, office space, a kitchen and other amenities.

The facility falls under the guidelines spelled out in the federal CARES Act, according to the news release. The 2019 law provided financial assistance to local, state and tribal governments coping with the impact of the pandemic.

The facility will help people when the pandemic gets worse, said tribal Chairman Matthew Komalty. “This building will house them; we would not have to send them off,” he said. “They can be here, and we can take care of them ourselves.”

In mid-November, the tribe opened its new Continuity of Operations center, which is designed to provide essential services for tribal members year-round. The COOP center
is located at 1605 SW Lee Blvd., Lawton.

Office closings

All Kiowa Tribe offices in Anadarko, Carnegie and Lawton will be closed through Jan. 18, Chairman Komalty announced recently.

The tribe has taken steps to ensure the safety of tribal members and staffers so services will be available during the COVID-19 pandemic, Komalty said in a news release. But due to program deadlines, the holidays and COVID-19 payments, the tribe was unable to enhance its current procedures and has put its staff at risk.

After reviewing recommendations from the tribal safety committee and executive branch, Komalty decided to close all tribal offices through mid-January, he said. Offices will reopen Jan. 19, after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We are closed to clean and disinfect all of our tribal buildings and allow the tribal staff to self-quarantine before our January monthly COVID testing,” Komalty said. “We have  had a substantial increase in our positive COVID-19 cases within our workforce during the holidays and need to adjust our internal procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Program directors will be available by phone, and a list of directors is posted on www.kiowatribe.org under the announcement tab. However, all staffers are in quarantine, so payments to individuals will not be rendered until offices reopen on Jan. 19.