WASHINGTON – Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced on April 30 that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has begun disbursing $900 million to federally recognized tribes under the American Rescue Plan Act.
The act calls for aiding tribes as they address the COVID-19 pandemic and its damaging impacts on Indian Country.
“The American Rescue Plan’s funds will provide much-needed aid to tribal governments that have been working to combat the devastating economic impact COVID-19 has had on their communities,” Newland said. “I am deeply grateful to Congress and the Administration for ensuring that Indian Country is not forgotten in the nation’s effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and build back better.”
The BIA’s $900 million disbursement plan addresses all of the program activities stipulated by Congress in the ARP Act – potable water delivery ($20 million), housing improvement ($100 million) and tribal payments and direct service for tribal government, social services, public safety and justice, Indian Child Welfare and other related expenses ($772.5 million).
The $772.5 million will be allocated as:
· $700 million through the Aid to Tribal Government funding line, thereby allowing tribes to reprogram across tribal priority allocation lines as necessary. Funding will be allocated to tribes listed in the BIA’s Federal Register notice. Allocations will be based on tribal enrollment data, using a distribution approach that groups tribes by enrollment size;
· $30 million for law enforcement and detentions funding;
· $30 million for tribes in Public Law 83-280 states. The majority of tribes in these states do not receive law enforcement support from the BIA. To address their needs, these funds can be used for tribal safety needs that fall outside of a formal law enforcement program. The tribe can determine whether to reprogram them as necessary to other areas like tribal courts. In addition, tribes can provide funding to BIA regional or agency offices for direct support services; and
· $12.5 million will be held centrally to allocate for unexpected exigencies as necessary.
Another $7.5 million will be for administrative and oversight costs. These funds will be managed centrally to support maintaining public health capabilities to have an informed BIA response to COVID-19, IT surge needs, adaptations for COVID safety requirements, personal protective equipment, staff surge needs and project management.