TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —  The American Rescue Plan Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden for Covid-19 recovery funds. Overall from the Act's funds, Indian Country will receive a historic $31.2 billion. The Cherokee Nation will receive $1.8 billion of those funds.

Part of the $1.8 billion will be allocated directly to the tribal citizens of the Cherokee Nation spread over two payments.

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Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner’s proposed spending plan for the funds will provide every Cherokee citizen with a total of $2,000 in direct relief assistance, allocating $1,000 each year for two years.

“My administration will work hand in hand with the Council of the Cherokee Nation to implement a plan that provides $1,000 in immediate and direct assistance to Cherokee citizens who continue to be impacted by the virus, and a second $1,000 payment to citizens in 2022, while also ensuring the Cherokee Nation is able to heal together and rebuild to be a stronger tribe with stronger and healthier Cherokee families and communities,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said. “This funding is an important step in our ongoing efforts to recover and rebuild.”

Other Cherokee Nation programs, such as tribe’s health, mental health, employment, housing, education and small business assistance, will benefit from the funds. 

The Cherokee Nation will begin launching applications for its Respond, Recover and Rebuild Covid-19 assistance using the funds through the tribe’s online Gadugi Portal.

Applications for direct assistance are expected to be online in June, but citizens are encouraged to register for the Gadugi Portal now to ease the sign-up process later.

 “Cherokee Nation called on Congress to provide even more funding to Indian Country, and we were successful. Now, with the infusion of $1.8 billion of additional COVID-19 funds under ARPA’s Fiscal Recovery Fund, 

“By investing an additional $1.8 billion into the Cherokee Nation’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending plan, we can continue to address the public health and economic challenges that have contributed to unequal impacts of the pandemic on tribal communities throughout the country,” Cherokee Nation Treasurer Tralynna Sherrill Scott said.

The spending plan Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner are proposing to the Council of the Cherokee Nation will not only provide a total of $2,000 in direct assistance to every Cherokee Nation citizen within the next two years, but will also dedicate substantial resources to support tribal health care services and improve mental health, wellness, and substance abuse recovery efforts for Cherokee citizens, many of whom have struggled under the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year. 

Another portion of the funds will provide much-needed support to economic development throughout the reservation. This includes support for job training and small business programs with an emphasis on rebuilding the economy and training Cherokees who became unemployed due to the pandemic to re-enter the job market.

Included in the plan is $80 million for a new initiative to erase poverty barriers, called “a-sv-dlv-i,” the Cherokee word for “bridge.” According to Chief Hoskin, programs under a-sv-dlv-i will be designed to knock down barriers to self-sufficiency created or worsened by the pandemic. 

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Though the tribe’s spending plan is in its early stages, Chief Hoskin said the new Respond, Recover and Rebuild proposal being provided to the Council will be carried out over a total three-year timeframe, with additional dollars being earmarked for education, housing, and infrastructure needs of Cherokee families.

Key components of the proposal, on a percentage basis, include:

  • 43.09% - COVID impact payments to every Cherokee citizen, irrespective of age or residency ($1,000 per citizen via the Gadugi Portal annually for two years)
  • 4.39% - a-sv-dlv-i Anti-Poverty Initiative)
  • 2.74% - Cherokee Nation Payroll & Hazard Pay
  • 0.27% - COVID Vaccine Education & Outreach
  • 4.39% - Cherokee Nation Workplace Health & Safety Improvements
  • .82% - Food security
  • 6.59% - Housing / Quarantine
  • .22% - PPE
  • 1.1% - Community Partners / CCO
  • 5.49% - Job Training / Small Business / Economic Impact
  • 6.59% - Education / Language / Higher Education Relief & Assistance
  • 9.6% - Government Revenue Replacement
  • 7.13% - Health Infrastructure / Behavioral Health / Wellness Programs
  • 3.18% -  Transportation and Infrastructure (including roads and water)
  • 3.57% - Broadband infrastructure
  • .82% - Financial administration of ARPA Funds

The Council will consider the spending resolution at its Executive and Finance Committee and special council meeting scheduled for May 27. The plan, which can be amended by the Principal Chief and the Council from time to time through the normal budget appropriation process is also subject to the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury.   

Cherokee Nation citizens are encouraged to register for the tribe’s new Gadugi Portal, a centralized database that will be vital to citizens as they apply for future tribal programs and services, including COVID-19 relief offered through the tribe’s upcoming Respond, Recover and Rebuild initiatives. Through the portal, citizens can manage or update their essential information with the tribe and connect with many Cherokee Nation departments. They will also use the online portal to apply for RRR assistance once the applications are available.

The portal can be accessed at https://gadugiportal.cherokee.org.

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