The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council has voted to reopen the eastern entrances to Glacier National Park this week. The entrances are located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. On March 15, the tribe moved to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 phased plan. That led to the vote by the council.

In a news release from the Blackfeet Nation, Public Information Officer James McNeely said, "With the move to phase 3 as well as consultation with medical authorities and the high rate of vaccination on the Blackfeet Reservation, the Council felt that was time to allow the east entrance to open."

The east entrances closed in March of 2020 under a state of emergency on the reservation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Associated Press reported the vote from the council was unanimous and the opening is based on the increased availability of COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Vaccines were offered to all over the age of 18 on the reservation March 2nd. As of this week, a reported 95 percent of the tribe's eligible population has been vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control have said that American Indians and other people of color may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 related complications. The tribe had a peak of over 400 active cases in October and 47 people have died from COVID-19 complications.

McNeeley also said, "Masks will be required for an indefinite period of time, possibly the next couple of years. Also, proper hand hygiene and social distancing are still highly recommended, along with regular testing."

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

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