A federal CARES Act allocation of $10,675,172 to the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation in Smith River will largely be used to offset un-budgeted expenses due to the global coronavirus outbreak, the tribe reported in a news release Tuesday. The funds were part of $8 billion set aside for tribes across the country in response to the pandemic.
Funds have been allocated to add important safety measures to infrastructure and facilities for the protection of employees and citizens, increase service delivery for citizens and invest in the continued strengthening community recovery.
“We the Tribal Council are striving to continue to build a stronger tribe and community even during this tribal, state and national crisis,” said Tribal Chairperson Leann McCallum. “We are looking at multiple ways to offer relief to citizens through our vital programs, as part of the continued goal of continue to provide for the general welfare of our membership.”
According to the news release, the Attorney General’s office issued an opinion of federal CARES Act funding saying funds should be directed to necessary expenses and programs that support the recovery of the Tribe from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Tribal “per capita scheme” is a prohibited use of the funds. Use of the federal funding must be tied to costs incurred due to the public health emergency the nation is facing.
The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation’s plan is to help guide all facets of the Tribal Government and citizen concerns.
“Unfortunately, many employers across the country have had to make drastic program cuts along with mass layoffs or business shutdowns,” Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation Vice Chairman Jeri Lynn Thompson. “We the council are very proud that the nation did not have to completely take that route in our operations. We are able to make appropriate reductions to continue to pay our government employees so they did not financially suffer while keeping essential tribal services operational.”
The tribe’s spending plan is allocated to multiple areas, according to the news release: Personal protective equipment (PPE), adding facility space for employee’s social distancing, investment in information technology (IT) for preparations to continued operational restrictions, restoration of operations, payroll functions, continued investment to assist the Tribal citizens with economic recovery and for the on-going response to COVID-19.
The tribal council has modified the Tribe’s FY2020 budget to accommodate the spending plan and will continue to monitor and provide input on the plan as it further develops. Plans will be subject to change as the pandemic and needs change.
We will continue to work together to meet this un-seen predator head-on and ensure our continued survival of the Tolowa people and as an end result be a stronger united people,” said Councilmember Dr. Joseph Giovannetti.