Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

The Son and Brother They Could Not Save

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation tried early and often to protect its members from COVID-19, but in this case, to no avail.


September 9, 2021

Michael Gavin, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, died of COVID on August 7. Photo courtesy of the Gavin family /

Near herculean efforts by tribal government to contain the spread of COVID-19 weren't enough to save Michael Gavin, a 39-year-old member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who died August 7, some 17 months after the Tribes initially declared a state of emergency. Gavin was the second CTUIR member to die of COVID-19. His uncle was the first.

Michael was a son, a brother, and an uncle to the Gavin family, which included his mother, Shawna, a member of the CTUIR Health Commission, and his sister, Jill-Marie Gavin-Harvey, one of nine members of the Tribes' board of trustees, the policy-making panel for the confederacy of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla peoples.

Gavin was an evangelical Christian and youth pastor at a Pentecostal church, and he followed the Washat "seven-drum" Longhouse religion. He also was a former gang member who, even after he left that lifestyle, counseled other gang members from around the world.


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