- By Levi Rickert
WASHINGTON – In a joint new release issued this morning, the Treasury Department and the Department of Interior announced plans to distribute a portion of the $8 billion in emergency relief funds set aside for tribal governments as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The release of the funds comes nine days after the April 26 deadline date set by Congress and the President. There was no official reason given for the delay.
The funds are set to be released on the same day President Donald Trump is to participate in a Native American town hall on the Honeywell campus, outside Phoenix.
“We are pleased to begin making $4.8 billion in critical funds available to Tribal governments in all states,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the news release.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt voiced his appreciation for Mnuchin’s effort to deliver the funds “promptly” to tribes, ignoring the missed deadline.
“I appreciate the Secretary of the Treasury’s determination in providing a clear pathway to get these resources promptly delivered,” Secretary Bernhardt said.
The funds were held up after more than a dozen tribes protested Treasury’s decision that for-profit Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) were eligible to receive funds that members of Congress intended for tribes, not ANCs.
A federal district judge ruled last Monday, April 27, that ANCs should not be deemed eligible to receive the CARES Act funds.
The plan to distribute the funds as announced today will be:
- Distribute 60 percent of the $8 billion to Tribes based on population data used in the distribution of the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG), subject to a floor of $100,000. This data is based on U.S. Census figures and is already familiar to Tribal governments.
- Distribute the remaining 40 percent of the $8 billion based on the total number of persons employed by the Indian tribe and any tribally-owned entity, and further data to be collected related to the amount of higher expenses faced by the tribe in the fight against COVID-19.
- Payment to Tribes will begin today based on the population allocation, and will take place over several banking days. Amounts calculated for Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional and village corporations will be held back until pending litigation relating to their eligibility is resolved.
- Payments to tribes based on employment and expenditure data will be made at a later date. Treasury will work with Tribes to confirm employment numbers and seek additional information regarding higher expenses due to the public health emergency.
Treasury notes that the pending litigation has introduced additional uncertainty into the process of implementing the allocation and making payments to the Tribes, but the Treasury is endeavoring to make payments of the remaining amounts as promptly as possible consistent with the Department’s obligation to ensure that allocations are made in a fair and appropriate manner.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.
More Stories Like ThisBiden Affirms Commitment to Tribal Nations, Announces New Initiatives at White House Tribal Nations Summit
PHOTOS: The White House Tribal Nations Summit
WATCH: The White House Tribal Nations Summit
Tribal Leaders to Attend First In-person White House Tribal Nations Summit in Six Years
Tribal Business News Round Up: Nov. 28
You’re reading the first draft of history.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:
- Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
- Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.
- Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country. We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.
We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.
Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.