Turkey giveaways kick off in the Turtle Mountains

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 7:16 PM CST
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BELCOURT, N.D. – Turkeys are a staple of Thanksgiving... but the pandemic has ground many traditions to a halt.

Fortunately, leaders with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa found a way to continue to honor tribal elders despite COVID-19.

Cars wrapped around the tribal headquarters building as members waited online for the 12th annual Turtle Mountain Elders Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway.

2020′s annual turkey giveaway in the Turtle Mountains included masks and contactless delivery.

Tribal members like Terry Longie who came to pick up for an elder said they are glad the event went on, even if held outside for the first time.

“It’s good that they do because a lot of these older people they can’t drive themselves and stuff like that. Like me, my mom’s 83,” said Longie.

Volunteer coordinator and recruiter Wylee Azure said volunteers started preparations early Monday morning and proceeded to hand out turkeys throughout the day.

“It started at 10. First we got the retirement home people done, so someone came and picked up a big bulk of it for that. And then a big bulk of the dialysis patients and after that we’ve just been having people out here,” said Wylee.

The first 700 also received care packages with vitamins, medicine, and other COVID essentials.

The tribe plans to give out nearly 9,000 turkeys between Monday and Tuesday’s events. Chairman Jamie Azure said they will be working to get turkeys to anyone who could not make either event.

The event was open to tribal elders age 62 and older. This is the first of two turkey giveaway events within the tribe.

The second will be a community wide turkey give away held at the Sky Dancer Casino and resort on Tuesday.

Starting at 2 p.m., turkeys for that event will be first come first serve and one will be given per household.

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