Rounds requests fair, equitable CARES Act funding for Great Plains tribes

The 12 U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs regions must receive their fair share of the $8 billion authorized to them under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD).

Specifically, the Great Plains Region, which includes South Dakota and North Dakota, makes up 10 percent of the enrolled tribal member population nationwide and encompasses nearly 25 percent of all Indian land owned by federally recognized tribes, wrote Sen. Rounds and U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) in a letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“We ask that when you are allocating funding amongst the tribes, you allot a fair and equitable amount to the Great Plains Region based on these statistics and their demonstrated need and difficult public health challenges,” Sen. Rounds and his colleague wrote.

When allocating the funding, the Treasury Department should ensure there is no overlap in counting, both on population and land base, according to their letter, which noted their concerns that the Treasury Department might allow the Alaska Native Corporations to simultaneously receive funding alongside the native village corporations and tribes.

Alaska Native Corporations were established in 1971 by Congress to settle land and financial claims made by the Alaska Natives and authorized them to establish regional corporations to administer the claims.

“The tribal members of the 229 federally recognized tribes (or villages), based on their location, belong to one of the 13 regional corporations,” Sen. Rounds and his colleague wrote. “By allowing these corporations, as well as the federally recognized tribes, to receive funding through the $8 billion tribal set-aside would give Alaska tribes a disproportionate advantage to receive additional funding.”

Additionally, the senators wrote that Treasury’s consultation with tribal leaders “is critical when administering these programs” and funds.