Choctaw Nation using CARES Act money to provide COVID-19 relief to members


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As part of the CARES Act, the Choctaw Nation received $200 million from the federal government, and it’s using the majority of that to provide pandemic relief for its members.

Tribal leaders say they are giving almost $113 million to members that need assistance.

“There are over 200,000 tribal member in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma,” Choctaw Nation Executive Officer of Members Services told KFOR. “So we want to be sure we are focusing to do the very best for those tribal members who’ve been impacted by the global pandemic.”

The Choctaw nation started accepting applications for the assistance on Monday. The relief ranges from $1,000 for members that lose their job, to monthly payments of $500 to members 65 and older that need help with rent. The aid doesn’t stop there.

“Food security,” Shepherd said. “Very important for folks that have been out of work, and families trying to feed their children while they’ve been home from school.”

The tribe is also putting a focus on education. We’re told in the first 24 hours, they received 10,000 applications for the student assistance program.

“They can use that for school clothes, anything they need to help them get ready to go back to school,” Shepherd said. “So that was the big one.”

That still leaves $87 million in CARES Act money for the Choctaw Nation. Tribal leaders say it will go towards government operations and infrastructure. It’s also holding on to a large hunk as a rainy day fund. “We do not know how the pandemic is going to effect us in the future. So we held back 11 percent of the funds at $21 million,” Shepherd said. “For future response that we may need for our tribal members or the stabilization of our operations.”

This assistance is only for members of the Choctaw nation. You can find the applications for tribal relief here.

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