The Cherokee Nation is receiving $1.8 billion in COVID-19 recovery funds as part of an historic investment in Indian Country through President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner’s proposed spending plan for the funds will provide every Cherokee citizen with a total of $2,000 in direct relief assistance, allocating $1,000 each year for two years, while also bolstering the tribe’s mental health and wellness initiatives to help citizens recover from the impacts of the global pandemic, assisting Cherokee-owned small businesses, reinforcing tribal health care services, improving infrastructure, and supporting education, housing, job training and more for Cherokee families.
The American Rescue Plan Act, or “ARPA,” provides a $20 billion set aside for tribal governments under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to help turn the tide of the pandemic, address the economic fallout, and build a strong foundation for recovery. This includes supporting immediate stabilization for households and businesses in Indian Country. An additional $12 billion in funds for tribal governments is also being set aside through Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Justice and other agencies.
The Cherokee Nation will begin launching applications for its Respond, Recover and Rebuild COVID-19 assistance using FRF funds through the tribe’s online Gadugi Portal. Applications for direct assistance are expected to be online in June, but citizens are encouraged to register for the Gadugi Portal now to ease the sign-up process later.
The Council will consider the spending resolution at its Executive and Finance Committee and special council meeting scheduled for May 27. The plan, which can be amended by the Principal Chief and the Council from time to time through the normal budget appropriation process is also subject to the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Additional ARPA funds totaling more than $300 million designated under federal law for health initiatives will also be used for health construction initiatives, including among other projects behavioral health facilities and a new hospital. Chief Hoskin will present health care construction plans to the Council later in the year.
Cherokee Nation citizens are encouraged to register for the tribe’s new Gadugi Portal, a centralized database that will be vital to citizens as they apply for future tribal programs and services, including COVID-19 relief offered through the tribe’s upcoming Respond, Recover and Rebuild initiatives. Through the portal, citizens can manage or update their essential information with the tribe and connect with many Cherokee Nation departments. They will also use the online portal to apply for RRR assistance once the applications are available.
The portal can be accessed at https://gadugiportal.cherokee.org.