TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation received $1.8 billion for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and tribe leaders plan to use a portion of the funds to provide $2,000 to every Cherokee citizen.
The $1.8 billion in relief funds are from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The proposed spending plan from Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, called Respond, Recover and Rebuild, provides every Cherokee citizen $2,000 in direct relief assistance, allocating $1,000 each year for two years, according to a Cherokee Nation news release.
The spending plan also aims to bolster mental health and wellness initiatives by helping citizens recover from the pandemic’s impact, assisting Cherokee-owned small businesses, reinforcing tribal health care services, improving infrastructure and supporting education, housing, job training and more for Cherokee families.
“Just more than a year ago the Cherokee Nation, like other tribal nations across the country, was suddenly faced with the worst public health crisis we have seen in generations. Through the Cherokee Nation Respond, Recover and Rebuild spending plan implemented in May of 2020, we were able to react quickly to stabilize our government services and tribal businesses while protecting our citizens, our employees, and our Cherokee communities through millions of dollars in direct financial assistance and critical support,” Hoskin said. “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, 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. This funding is an important step in our ongoing efforts to recover and rebuild.”
Cherokee citizens can use the tribe’s online Gadugi Portal to apply for Respond, Recover and Rebuild COVID-19 assistance using FRF funds. Direct assistance applications are expected to be online in June. Tribe officials encourage citizens to register for the Gadugi Portal now to ease the sign-up process later. The portal can be accessed at gadugiportal.cherokee.org.
The $1.8 billion going to the Cherokee Nation is part of $20 billion set aside in ARPA for tribal governments under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (FRF). The funds are to be used to turn the tide of the pandemic and build a foundation for recovery.
U.S. Treasury officials said the $20 billion FRF going to tribes is intended to “replace revenue lost by tribal governments, strengthen support for vital public services, help retain jobs, and address other challenges faced by tribal nations in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic,” according to the news release.
“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,” said Treasurer Tralynna Sherrill Scott.
Part of the $1.8 billion going to the Cherokee Nation will be used to support economic development throughout the reservation, including support for job training and small business programs with a focus on rebuilding the economy and training Cherokees who became unemployed because of the pandemic to re-enter the job market.
The plan also has an $80 million initiative called “a-sv-dlv-i,” the Cherokee word for “bridge.”
A-sv-dlv-i programs will be designed to eliminate barriers to self-sufficiency created or worsened by the pandemic.
“This plan is a comprehensive approach to stabilizing our government and businesses as we continue addressing the COVID pandemic,” said Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez, one of the resolution’s sponsors. “But, it is also a way to make generational impact for all Cherokee citizens. ARPA challenges us to respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID. This extension of our Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan enables us to do so in a way that will help Cherokees from all walks of life, near and far and far into the future.”
Respond, Recover and Rebuild is planned to be carried out over three years. Additional dollars are earmarked for the education, housing and infrastructure needs of Cherokee families.
The following are the proposal’s key components:
- 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 spending resolution will be considered during the Council’s Executive and Finance Committee and special council meeting on May 27.