In addition to the $3200 paid out by the IRS since the beginning of the pandemic – $1200 in March 2020, $600 in December 2020, and $1400 in March 2021 – members of the Cherokee Nation are receiving an additional $2000 stimulus payment. The payment is slated to be split in two, with one thousand dollars paid this year and the other half paid twelve months from now.
As part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021, historic investments were made in Native American tribal governments – to the tune of $20 billion. The Cherokee Nation, after the Navajo the second-largest Native American nation in the United States, received $1.8 billion in federal COVID-19 recovery funding. Few strings were attached to the funding; it was decided that it could be spent however Cherokee leaders decided it would be of the most use.
Consequently, Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. proposed a three-year budget that would set aside roughly 43 percent of the federal funds for direct payments to Cherokee citizens. The remainder would be put towards mental health programs, loans for Cherokee-owned small businesses, tribal health care, infrastructure, education, and job training. In statements, Hoskins and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner underlined the importance of restoring a sense of community and mental well-being to the Cherokee Nation, while also underscoring the need for further economic development. He reported that the plan would set aside an additional $300 million for health-related concerns, such as the construction of a new hospital in Cherokee territory. He also indicated that the plan would set aside of $80 million for programs to erase poverty barriers.
While the $2000 payments are available for all Cherokees, it seems that registration might be required to receive one. The Cherokee Nation has opened its online “Gadugi Portal”, a centralized database intended to help Cherokees navigate the request process and apply for direct assistance.
The Treasury Department has indicated that the $20 billion in payments to tribal nations is principally set aside for tribes to replace the revenue they have lost from the pandemic and help them to strengthen their public services and economies. To this end, the Cherokee Nation has also indicated it will support economic development through job training and small business programs. Further funding has been earmarked for social needs, including education, infrastructure, and housing.
Trevor Filseth is a news reporter and writer for the National Interest.