HRDC roof collapse aerial view.
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — Shoshone-Bannock Tribal departments housed in the Human Resources Development Center were relocated to the old casino after the roof collapsed in the center of the building early February 25.
Interim Fort Hall Fire Chief and Incident Commander Eric King said the roof collapsed at about 2:53 a.m. in the Elderly Nutrition dining room according to information obtained from security cameras. Fort Hall Police officers doing security checks discovered it. Fort Hall Fire and Tribal Facilities staff was contacted that resulted in power and water being shutoff to both the HRDC and Tribal Business Center (TBC) buildings. There was no work for tribal employees that day.
Work resumed for tribal employees located in the TBC side on February 26 however those who work in the HRDC weren’t allowed to return because of safety issues. The affected tribal departments include Elderly Nutrition, 477 programs including Consumer Services, TANF, Vocational Rehabilitation, Higher Education, Learning Lab and Library. The Sho-Ban News was also forced to move and didn’t publish February 28.
At left: Close view of the roof caved in at the HRDC building; right: view inside the dining room.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small said there was too much ice buildup on the top of the roof that may have caused the collapse. Recovery crews are moving everything out of the HRDC and either relocating it to the old casino or it is being placed in Conex containers.
He said the recovery crews are hoping to complete everything by March 8. Contractors are submitting bids but tribal officials don’t yet know if it will be a complete or partial demolition of the building. “We are wanting to keep everyone out of the area,” Small said because a fence has been put up around the building and police are patrolling it at night.
Fire Chief King said only those working on the recovery team are allowed to go in the HRDC. “We are still trying to evaluate the safety of the building.” “It’s not a public building anymore,” he said and the public needs to stay out of the area.
Joyce Hayes, Elderly Nutrition director, said her program was greatly impacted as they lost all of the tables and chairs in the dining room, freezers, refrigerators, a bingo flashboard, “Pretty much everything in the dining room is gone,” she said. In the kitchen they lost the stove, pots and pans, a cash register, a microwave, small ice machine, serving trays. The steam table is gone, along with the two big flat screen televisions and two computers near the dining room door.
Elderly Nutrition Director Joyce Hayes in front of the new dining room.
Hayes found out around 5:30 a.m. February 25 when the cook called to advise she wasn’t able to go to work. Joyce said she wasn’t sure what happened and it didn’t sink in right away until she saw the destruction. “I felt numb.”
They were able to retrieve their office furniture and supplies. They are now located in the former Buffalo Horn Grill for cooking and tribal elders are being served outside of it. The office is in the northwest corner of the old casino.
The program was able to serve tribal elders lunch March 1 with food brought in from Del Monte Meats and they’re also assisting with home delivery to homebound. Meals were served from the Pocatello Senior Center March 4, 5 and 6.
Hayes said next week they hope to be cooking their own meals after the former Buffalo Horn Grill was professionally cleaned and cooking equipment replaced. “The elders are happy we’re serving again,” she said and bingo may start soon after the equipment is obtained.
Ramona Medicinehorse, Vocational Rehabilitation director, said the program is now located in the northwest side of the old casino in the former Player’s Club area. There are still awaiting some of their files to be moved and for network connections to get functional. She said confidentiality is a concern in the area because of surveillance still in the building. They currently have 46 clients they assist with disabilities to regain, retain and obtain employment.
The program is preparing for their biggest event they host that is a Job Fair scheduled March 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Shoshone-Bannock Casino and Hotel. The purpose is to bring in employers for community members and VR clients to access they might not be able to otherwise. Last year over 400 people attended the event that had 55 vendors. Voc Rehab is in the fifth year of grant funding and intends to reapply for another five years.
Mardel Tissidimit, Shoshone Language Apprentice with a bag she weaved.
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Language & Culture Preservation (L&CP) Department received Tribal Practices Grant for three years.
The grant was applied for with the help of the Diabetes Program through the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who has a nationwide initiative for healing and wellness.
They applied for the grant in January 2018. L&CP Cultural Resource Director, Louise Dixey, explained the main goal of the grant is to support the seasonal, cultural and traditional practices that will promote health and wellness. They will accomplish this by increasing opportunities for tribal members to attend cultural activities in the traditional homelands. They will increase the number of community members that participate in the family centered community activities and events that teach and build upon, celebrate and strengthen cultural and traditional practices and associated language lexicon.
The second area they want to focus on is increasing educational opportunities for tribal members to improve understanding of harvest, seasonal and traditional practices.
The third area they will cover is cultural teachings and practices about traditional healthy foods that promote health, sustenance and stability.
The Tribal Practices Grant is for three years and is for $90,000 each year. The first year was spent coming up with the budget to spend the awarded amount, so they didn't get to do all they wanted to accomplish that first year because of delays beyond their control. They are currently in their second year and were able to do a carryover budget.
The Diabetes Project will help by creating the nutritional value of the traditional foods. They will also help support by coming to the traditional events and assisting where needed.
So far L&CP has done classes such as traditional basket weaving, bow & arrow making, all in the hopes people can learn about and utilize the tools they make. A digging stick class is also in the works.
Another class on willows, specifically used for shade making, is set to take place on Saturday’s in March, beginning March 9. Tribal elder Marietta Cortez will teach the class.
“That’s the whole purpose for us having these classes, they’re all building up to the harvest. And learning how to do the harvesting,” she said.
The Cultural Events for 2019 are set as follows:
Buffalo Hunt in Jackson Hole, Wyo. April 17-18; Bitterroot Harvest in Mackay, Idaho April-May; Camas Prairie Homecoming/Camas Gathering in Fairfield, Idaho June 1 and 2; Return of the Boise Valley People in Boise, Idaho June 14-16; Salmon Fishing June 29-July; Virginia City Treaty Day Gathering in Virginia City, Mont., July 12-13; Service Berry Harvest (On & Off-Reservation) July 22-August 3; Bannock Gathering in Fort Hall, Idaho August 5-6; Chokecherry Harvest and Huckleberry Harvest August 18-September 14; Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Festival August 8-11; Agai Deka Gathering in Salmon, Idaho August 16-17; Shoshonean Reunion in Lawton, Okla., September.
At the end of the grant a video will be created to highlight the goals fulfilled by the grant and documented for the future generation.
“The whole plan is to help families and young people to preserve these teachings and so that we can keep continuing to go to the areas off reservation and on reservation,” said Dixey.