Sen. Rounds, Sen. Cramer urge Treasury Department to allot fair amount of funding to Tribes

Treasury Check

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, urging the Department of the Treasury to distribute the $8 billion allocated for tribes in the CARES Act in a fair and equal manner to the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs Regions.

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.

“As you know, there are 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs Regions. The Great Plains Region encompasses nearly 25 percent of all Indian land owned by federally recognized tribes. Further, 10 percent of the enrolled tribal member population nationwide resides within the Great Plains Region. 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,” wrote the senators.

“As your Department of Treasury staff has acknowledged, when allocating this funding, there should be no overlap in counting, both on population and land base. Of particular concern is the Treasury allowing the Alaska Native Corporations to receive funding, as well as the native village corporations and tribes simultaneously,” they continued.

Full text of the letter below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

Thank you for all of your work to keep the national economy afloat during these unprecedented times. Through passage of the four legislative vehicles, Congress intended to help all Americans and state, local and tribal governments. We appreciate the hard work you and your team has done to make sure funding is being distributed in a timely fashion.

Within H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress created an $8 billion tribal set-aside. As you know, there are 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs Regions. The Great Plains Region encompasses nearly 25 percent of all Indian land owned by federally recognized tribes. Further, 10 percent of the enrolled tribal member population nationwide resides within the Great Plains Region. 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.

As your Department of Treasury (Treasury) staff has acknowledged, when allocating this funding, there should be no overlap in counting, both on population and land base. Of particular concern is the Treasury allowing the Alaska Native Corporations to receive funding, as well as the native village corporations and tribes simultaneously. As you may know, Alaska Native Corporations were established in 1971 when Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act which settled land and financial claims made by the Alaska Natives and provided for the establishment of regional corporations to administer those claims. The tribal members of the 229 federally recognized tribes (or villages), based on their location, belong to one of the 13 regional corporations. 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.

We understand your team has had several conversations with tribes from across the country, as well as from the Great Plains Region, which we appreciate. We believe consultation with tribal leaders is critical when administering these programs. Again, we ask that you work to administer this funding in a fair and equitable manner that does not allow for overlap in counting.

Categories: Coronavirus, National News, North Dakota News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News

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