$31 Billion Included For Indigenous Americans In COVID Relief Package
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed by Congress this week contains an historic amount of funding for Indigenous Americans.
The American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden into law Thursday, includes $31 billion to help tribal communities recover from the pandemic.
It’s the largest single infusion of resources to tribal communities in U.S. history.
Senator Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, said, “We can see every single day that this pandemic has not been the great equalizer. It has affected most the people who are already at risk and already dealing with real challenges.”
According to Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs committee, Indigenous Americans who contract COVID are four times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be hospitalized and two times more likely to die from it.
She says that’s one of the many reasons why this funding is so important.
“These dollars are going to help them to shore up their budgets, so that they can keep people employed, they’re going to help to support their education systems and their health systems.”
In North Dakota, Scott Satermo the CEO of MHA Nation, says that on top of health problems, COVID has also caused significant financial struggles.
“Roughly 60% less revenue,” said Satermo.
“Its affected everything for what those dollars could have went for for us.”
Smith says the $31 billion in pandemic relief for tribal communities includes $20 billion to tribal governments, $6 Billion for the Indian Health Service, roughly $1 billion for native education programs and $20 million to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on native languages.