CARES Act

Little Shell Tribal Health

 

Many tribal leaders are used to stretching every dollar that comes their way. Last year, they were faced with a different problem: millions in badly needed aid money, and not enough time to spend it.

"The money came at us quick, and it was a flurry," said Karen Snyder, who coordinates pandemic response for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming. "We had to act fast in order to get it out the door."

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


CARES Act money was distributed last year to keep businesses open during the pandemic, to help people pay rent, and even to help local governments stay afloat. But for the country’s indiginous tribes, who are among the most vulnerable, getting those dollars took extra work and more time. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona recently asked Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez what it took to get their stimulus and disaster relief payments and how they’re using the money to help people on the reservation. 

Savannah Maher

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law on Friday. It includes the largest ever one-time federal investment in Indian Country, with $20 billion in direct aid to tribal governments, and another $11 billion set aside for federal Indian programs. 

The aid comes as many tribal nations in the Mountain West are struggling to stay afloat.

Bytemarks via Flickr / Creative Commons


About 100,000 New Mexicans are on the state’s rolls for unemployment insurance right now. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them qualify for longer-than-usual periods of benefits that expired last year, but have now been reinstated and extended to March 13.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's Facebook page

  The national unemployment rate dropped in July to just over 10%, while New Mexico’s unemployment rate rose in that period to just over 12%. One reason is that people who were temporarily furloughed are now actually looking for jobs. That’s according to New Mexico Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley. He told  KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona that  while New Mexico’s unemployment trust fund will likely be depleted this month, his department has borrowed money from the federal government to extend the availability of benefits.