7-29-2020 Morning COVID-19 Brief
July 29, 2020
Coronavirus Relief - Legislative Grind Ahead
Unemployment assistance continues to expire for 32 million people receiving the enhanced benefit. At the same time business closures, bankruptcies, and evictions are all climbing with the expiration of federal aid and protections. This dramatic backdrop of a teetering economy is not enough to spur ownership of the next round of legislation in the Republican led Senate. Negotiations among senior leadership in the Senate and House were absent yesterday with some Republicans already distancing themselves from the plethora of bill drafts released yesterday. The lack of coalesce around a single bill and the resignation of Senate Republicans to wait and see what happens in negotiations leaves an opportunity for Indian Country to negotiate key requests in the next round of funding.
It was clear in yesterday’s call that language in the HEALS Act needs to be revised and Indian Country’s placement in the base bill needs to be improved. NAFOA, NCAI, NIHB, and our other partner organizations will continue working on building on the base Senate bill and blending the House HEROES bill to benefit Indian Country. There are clear calls to improve government assistance, economic support, infrastructure improvements, and health care access. Please reach out to any of the organizations to voice any concerns or priorities.
Quote of the Day:
“We want to see tribes have access to airwaves and do neat things with it,” Rosenworcel said, calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity for tribes.”
– FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
Coronavirus crisis threatens internet opportunity for Native Americans (Reuters)
Interim Report of Costs Incurred by State and Local Recipients through June 30
The Department of Treasury released the report for state and local usage of CRF funds to date. Tribes not included in this data set, this could possibly be because it is unlikely that all tribes submitted data or they are not releasing it. Of note, South Carolina and Minnesota haven’t spent a dime and California has completely exhausted their CRF funds.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing on “Preparing to Head Back to Class: Addressing How to Safely Reopen Bureau of Indian Education Schools.”
- 2:30PM ET
- Watch Here
- Committee Notice
- Panel I
- Mr. Tony Dearman, Director, Bureau of Indian Education, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
- Panel II
- Ms. Marita Hinds, President, National Indian Education Association, Washington, DC (Virtual Witness)
- Mr. David Yarlott Jr., Chair, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Alexandria, VA (Virtual Witness)
- Panel I
Chuck Hoskin: New grants available for Cherokee students and families during pandemic (Indianz.com)
There is no clear end in sight, but we remain diligent in creating ways to serve our people in spite of these hurdles. With that in mind, we recently launched online applications for Cherokee Nation’s Respond, Recover and Rebuild Education Initiative. Under this program, we have earmarked $40 million for relief to Cherokee students and families.
A $400 technology grant is available for every Cherokee citizen ages 5 to 18. Families can use these relief dollars for things like improved Wi-Fi or computer equipment that may be required for distance learning.
In addition, school clothing grants of $300 for low-income applicants and $150 for all other applicants are available. These grants will help make sure every Cherokee Nation citizen ages 5 to 18 who resides inside the reservation boundaries can afford new clothes and a winter coat.
Haaland, Warren Take Historic Step to Affirm Native Nations’ Ownership of Broadband Spectrum on Their Lands (Press Release)
“Connectivity is key to ensuring Native Americans have access to education resources, telehealth, and public safety, but Native Americans living on reservations have been left behind in the digital divide, and sovereign Native Nations encounter significant barriers to access spectrum rights on their Tribal lands to deploy wireless broadband to their communities. Our DIGITAL Reservations bill will help Tribes fully realize self-governance and protect their sovereign right to manage their own natural resources on Tribal lands and ensure Native communities aren’t stuck in the digital divide,” said Congresswoman Haaland
Mental Health Support for Students of Color During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic (Center for American Progress)
Since March, the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged tribal populations. Navajo Nation has the highest infection rate in the country, and Native Americans across the United States are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. Due to high rural populations, collateral effects of the pandemic related to remote learning and telehealth access have been especially devastating. Across the country, only 67 percent of Native Americans have high-speed Internet, compared with 82 percent of all other Americans. This would make remote learning and telehealth access difficult with extensive resources, but historic underfunding of Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools has limited the capacity for schools to respond at all.