Senate Indian Affairs Chairman Releases COVID-19 Relief Guide to Help Native Communities Access Federal Resources

Mar 22, 2021News

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, recently released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document and comprehensive guide for Native communities, designed to help them navigate the various COVID-19 relief resources passed by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“At least $31.2 billion in dedicated resources ⎯the biggest one-time investment in U.S. history ⎯is heading to Native communities,” Schatz stated. “This funding will assist Native communities as they continue to tackle the impacts of COVID-19.”

The comprehensive guide highlights some of the historic firsts of the ARPA, including the “first time Congress has ever provided dedicated, direct spending in a Budget Reconciliation package for the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the Administration for Native Americans (ANA).”

The guide addresses how the ARPA respects Tribal sovereignty and self-determination by providing Native communities with the flexibility to decide how to deploy funds to meet the communities’ needs. It also breaks down the dedicated spending in each industry, including agriculture, education, and small business.

Furthermore, the FAQ document explains which Tribes are eligible for certain funding and specifies exactly how funding in each industry will be allocated.

“Our resource guide and FAQs will be updated as more information becomes available to ensure American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities have up-to-date information about the resources available to them,” said Schatz.

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