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Tribal Governments to Receive $32.4 Billion in Financial Support


Tribal nations throughout the U.S. states and territories have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many areas, Tribal health providers have been overwhelmed by cases and drops in tax revenue are creating budget crises. With disaster on the horizon, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan signed into law by President Biden, contains numerous provisions directly aimed at supporting Native communities.

In the following, we highlight how the bill will affect Tribal governments, and detail additional funding opportunities for Native American communities.

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Impact on Tribal governments

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tribal governments and health systems have been stretched to the breaking point. The American Rescue Plan does a lot to address this looming crisis by delivering over $32.4 billion in funding that will go directly to Tribal nations and numerous health programs that benefit Native communities. The bill also includes a number of historic firsts that respect Tribal sovereignty, including:

  • Direct access for Tribal members to the Small Business Credit Initiative
  • Equal access to Medicaid reimbursement resources for Native healthcare providers
  • Dedicated resources protecting Native languages and cultures

Much of the relief funding is allocated and disbursed automatically using metrics that include population, economic conditions, and unemployment rates. While each program has different disbursement details, broadly speaking, payments are delivered in two or more installments, the first coming within a 60-day window following the bill becoming law, and future installments in 2022 and beyond.

Other programs will require Tribal authorities to apply for grants based on specific needs.

Key provisions of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 affecting Tribal governments

Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund

Sec. 9901, SSA-Sec. 602

$20 billion for federally recognized tribal governments (excluding Alaska Native Corporations) to combat COVID-19 and stabilize Tribal community safety-net programs:

  • First $1 billion will be split evenly among the 574 federally recognized tribal governments with each tribal government receiving approx. $1.74 million.
  • The remaining $19 billion to be allocated among the 574 federally recognized tribal governments based on tribal population and other factors to be determined by the U.S Treasury.

Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund

Sec. 9901, SSA-Sec. 604

$100 million available for tribal governments to support critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring in response to COVID-19:

  • Tribal governments and the state of Hawaii receive $100 million to be split among them evenly of no less than $50,000 per entity.

NOTE: The Treasury Department will establish an application process for grants from the fund within 60 days of enactment of the law.

Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund

Sec. 9901, SSA-Sec. 605

$500 million for eligible tribal governments.

Eligible tribal governments will receive $250 million allocated based on each eligible Tribe’s economic conditions for FY 2022 and 2023, respectively.

NOTE: Payments from this fund may be used for any governmental purpose other than a lobbying activity.

Additional Tribal Government Programs

Indian Health Service and Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems


$6 billion to be allocated to the Indian Health Service and Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems

Indian Health Service

  • $2.340 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, tracing, mitigation, and workforce expenses
  • $2 billion for lost third-party medical billing reimbursements
  • $600 million for health facility construction and sanitation programs
  • $500 million for clinical health services and Purchased/Referred Care
  • $420 million for mental and behavioral health
  • $140 million for improving health IT and telehealth access
  • $84 million for Urban Indian Health Programs
  • $10 million for potable water delivery

Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems

  • $20 million set-aside for Papa Ola Lōkahi and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems

Bureau of Indian Affairs Programs

Sec. 11002

$900 million to be allocated as follows:

  • $772.5 million for Tribal government services (i.e., general welfare assistance, assistance to Tribal governments, public safety, child welfare)
  • $100 million for the Housing Improvement Program
  • $20 million for potable water delivery
  • $7.5 million for administrative costs and oversight

HUD Tribal & Native Hawaiian Housing Programs

Sec. 3206 and Sec. 11003

$1.248 million to be allocated as follows:

  • $498 million Tribal set-aside within Treasury’s Homeowners Assistance Program for Tribes and Native Housing Programs
  • $450 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant
  • $280 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant
  • $15 million for technical assistance, administrative costs, and oversight
  • $5 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant
  • $5 million for administrative costs and oversight

Native Languages

Sec. 11004

$20 million for a new emergency Native language preservation and maintenance grant program through the Administration for Native Americans.

Native Education Programs

Sec. 2003, Sec. 11005, Sec. 11006

$1.1+ billion for Native education programs, including Bureau of Indian Education schools, Tribal education agencies, Tribal colleges and universities, Native Hawaiian education programs, and Alaska Native education programs allocated as follows:

  • $850 million for Bureau of Indian (BIE) education programs, BIE K-12 schools & dormitories, and Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • $190 million for Department of Education grants to Tribal Education Agencies, Native Hawaiian education organizations, and Alaska Native education organizations
  • $142+ million for Tribal Colleges and Universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
  • $89+ million for Native-serving institutions of higher education, including Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian serving institutions, through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Native Families

Sec. 1006, Sec. 2201, Sec. 2202, Sec. 2203, Sec. 2205, Sec. 2601, Sec. 2912, Sec. 2921, Sec. 3401, Sec. 9201, Sec. 9801

Over $1 billion to be allocated as follows:

  • $20.2 million to tribal colleges and universities
  • $1.072 billion for Tribal child care programs and support
  • $400 million for child care assistance programs
  • $75 million for Tribal TANF grantees to provide assistance to families in need through the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund
  • $25.4 million for Head Start
  • $2.5 million for child abuse prevention and treatment
  • $20 million for community health centers
  • $15 million for water assistance program
  • $25 million for supporting Native elders
  • $35 million for tribal transit agencies through the rural areas formula grants and discretionary grants

State Small Business Credit Initiative

Sec. 3301

$500 million to be allocated to tribal governments as follows:

  • Based on employment and economic data, Tribes can participate for the first time in the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative

Programs for Violence Survivors

Sec. 2204

$19 million for Native communities’ efforts to combat domestic violence allocated as follows:

  • $18 million for Tribal awardees through the Family Violence Prevention & Services Act
  • $1 million for “Stronghearts” Native Domestic Violence Hotline

Final thoughts

With billions of dollars in aid becoming available to Tribal government agencies, the use of these funds is going to be tracked very closely by federal regulators. If you have any questions about how funds can be utilized, and how to track and report this use, MGO’s dedicated State and Local Government team can help. Contact Us