On April 30, 2021, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has begun disbursing $900 million to federally recognized tribes under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. ARP was signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, and the funds will aid tribes as they address the COVID-19 pandemic and its damaging impacts on Indian Country.
This announcement follows the Bureau of Indian Education’s recent announcement of its disbursement plan.
“The American Rescue Plan’s funds will provide much-needed aid to tribal governments that have been working to combat the devastating economic impact COVID-19 has had on their communities,” Newland said. “I am deeply grateful to Congress and the Administration for ensuring that Indian Country is not forgotten in the nation’s effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and build back better.”
The BIA’s $900 million disbursement plan addresses all of the program activities stipulated by Congress in the ARP Act:
Potable Water Delivery - $20 million
Housing Improvement - $100 million
Tribal payments and direct service for Tribal Government, Social Services, Public Safety and Justice, Indian Child Welfare, and other related expenses - $772.5 million. These funds will be allocated as follows:
$700 million through the Aid to Tribal Government funding line, thereby allowing tribes to reprogram across Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) lines as necessary. Funding will be allocated to tribes listed in the BIA’s Federal Register notice. Allocations will be based on tribal enrollment data, using a distribution approach that groups tribes by enrollment size.
$30 million for law enforcement and detentions funding.
$30 million for tribes in Public Law 83-280, also known as P.L. 280, states through the Social Services line. The majority of tribes in these states do not receive law enforcement support from the BIA. To address their unique needs, these funds can be used for tribal safety needs that fall outside of a formal law enforcement program. The tribe can determine whether to reprogram them as necessary to other areas like tribal courts. In addition, tribes can provide funding to BIA regional or agency offices for direct support services, if necessary.
$12.5 million will be held centrally to allocate for unexpected exigencies as necessary.
Administrative and Oversight Costs - $7.5 million: These funds will be managed centrally to support maintaining public health capabilities to have an informed Indian Affairs response to COVID-19, IT surge needs, adaptations for COVID safety requirements, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), staff surge needs, and project management.
The full methodologies for each of the allocations above can be found at the following Indian Affairs webpage: https://www.bia.gov/service/american-rescue-plan-act. Additionally, a summary of the comments received during the three consultations which were held to inform ARP allocations is at the following location:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs directly administers and funds tribally operated infrastructure, law enforcement and justice, social services (including child welfare), tribal governance, and trust land and natural and energy resources management programs for the nation’s federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. It does this through four program offices (Indian Services, Justice Services, Trust Services, and Field Operations), 12 regional offices, and over 80 field agencies.
Information taken from U.S. Department of the Interior News Release dated April 30, 2021.