Native American communities have some of the highest rates of diabetes, heart disease and asthma in the nation – all of which leaves people who live in these communities more susceptible to the coronavirus. Native American households are often multigenerational, too– meaning elderly relatives who are at higher risk live with the rest of the extended family.
Though the Indian Health Service is already underfunded, the CARES ACT, recently approved by Congress, allocated $8 billion in stimulus money to 574 Native American tribal governments.
But Jennifer Bendery, a senior politics reporter for HuffPost told Texas Standard that the promised money has yet to arrive. Many of the reasons have to do with confusion within the Treasury Department about how to work with tribes to disperse the emergency funds.
Bendery said the Treasury Department was “given this lump sum of money to give to tribal governments with an urgency behind it because this is a pandemic that is disproportionately hurting tribes.”
But the agency doesn’t know how to come up with a formula for distribution.
“So they’ve been leaning on these other agencies to help these other agencies are already spread thin because they have other things they’re doing during the pandemic,” she said.
What you’ll hear in this piece:
– How a lawsuit over whether Alaska Native Corporations are entitled to the money has delayed fund distribution
– How federal agencies’ interaction with tribes is affecting the situation
– Why the many Native American casino businesses that do not qualify for relief from the Small Business Administration, because they get their money from gaming activities
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