San Carlos Apache Tribe cancels religious ceremonies due to COVID-19

SAN CARLOS – The San Carlos Apache Tribe has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting gatherings of no more than 10 people.

The Tribal Council held a special meeting Wednesday, where it was declared that all religious, traditional and other faith-based ceremonies are cancelled until further notice.

“I want to thank some of our local churches who have already made adjustments and are supporting the decisions of the San Carlos Council,” Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler said in a social media posting.

“We have to do this together. We have to support each other. We have to pray for each other. We have to be more respectful of each other. We have to be more helpful to each other. We have to be more forgiving of each other. This is about the future of the San Carlos Apaches and the human race. I pray we take this time of uncertainty to reconnect with our families, neighbors, environment and our Creator God. God bless our people and all people.

The exceptions to the 10-person rule are funerals and those working essential services, such as first responders and health-care workers.

Also cancelled are Greyhound Bus service stops on the reservation. The bus line travels between Phoenix and El Paso, Texas, through the reservation on U.S. Highway 70.

The tribe had already closed its casinos as a result of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order limiting the operation of certain businesses.

The tribe has not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the reservation. The tribe has tested 20 members thus far, with 14 coming back negative and six test results still pending.