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Protecting our most vulnerable from COVID-19

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News from CSKT

FLATHEAD RESERVATION  – Through photography, music and film, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and tribal artists, have come together to protect beloved elders, one of the tribes’ most vulnerable cultural assets, from COVID-19.

“Our elders are cultural treasures, the ones we value the highest for their knowledge and wisdom,” said Shelly R. Fyant, chairwoman of CSKT’s Tribal Council. “From the beginning, we’ve been concerned about protecting our community and especially our elders.”

CSKT launched the Who’s At Risk? Campaign to remind people that social distancing protects the people, businesses and community that they care most about. The multimedia campaign encourages everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands so that elders like Vic Charlo can remain better protected from COVID-19 exposure. Through video, he expresses some of his joys that remind him to keep his guard up.

“My children and my grandchildren, that’s what makes me happy,” Charlo says. “That’s why I mask up.”

To tell the stories of who’s most at risk, CSKT commissioned nine talented artists from the Flathead Reservation to photograph, film and record tribal elders and businesses. The elders will be showcased on billboards throughout the Flathead Reservation, in digital ads, on social media platforms, in television and radio spots to air this fall and on, a website created for the campaign. Who’s At Risk? will also feature music videos made by tribal artists on YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.

“There’s always been a push from council to tell our own story in our own way,” says CSKT’s communication director, Robert McDonald. “This mix of photography, video and musicianship puts on full display the range of talent in our tribal community. It’s overwhelming at times to watch reaction from our community who are moved by these efforts.”

Who’s At Risk?, made possible by CSKT Tribal Council and backing from the CARES ACT, hopes to elevate the message that everyone can do their part to protect tribal elders and the cultural knowledge they hold.

“If you really care for people, you wear a mask,” said Mary Jane Charlo, another elder featured in the campaign.

Who’s At Risk? is a multimedia campaign launched by CSKT to protect tribal elders from COVID-19. It includes work by nine tribal artists that helps spread the message that everyone can do their part to protect tribal members by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands.

The website can be accessed at On the website, viewers will find information about elders, including Mary Jane Charlo, Stephen Small Salmon, Myrna Dumontier, Corky Clairmont, Linda King, Vic Charlo, Iris Caye and Scotty Gardipee. Information is also available about the artists who have provided their talent for the campaign. 


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