The petition closed with over 1,000 signatures and was delivered to the U.S. Congress. See here for our video and press release announcing the delivery.
Dear U.S. Senators,
The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the disparities this country has endured for centuries. Indian Country has always endured the greatest burden after disastrous events, but we always emerge stronger. As of May 18, there have been 5,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Indian Health System and 174 total deaths. Right now, tribal citizens from across the continent are disproportionately feeling the pandemic’s impacts: they have lost jobs and health care, resources are stretched thin, youth cannot attend school, broadband internet access is disproportionately lacking, and so many elders are in need of food and financial support.
We will not accept being an afterthought in federal relief efforts made in this country—the country where Native people have been for centuries.
And yet, an afterthought is exactly how we have been treated throughout this crisis. Indian Country has been undersupported by federal relief efforts. Tribes and tribal entities received $8 billion in the Phase III stimulus package, but this support fell far short of the $20 billion for which the National Congress of American Indians initially advocated to cover the true needs of Indian Country. Moreover, the current administration was extremely slow getting the funds out the door, delaying the resources meant for Native communities. Now the HEROES Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes $20 billion more for Tribal governments — urgently needed forward progress. We ask the Senate to maintain this level of funding in any Phase IV stimulus package. These funds will be used to feed tribal citizens, aid health care work, and jump start our economic recovery plan. Tribal nations and communities contribute not just to their enrolled members, but to people from other tribes and to non-Native people, too. Our contributions should be recognized, and our people should be acknowledged and adequately supported!
We must ensure Indian Country is accounted for in the Phase IV stimulus package. Specifically the Senate must do the following:
- Maintain the appropriations for tribal governments and entities in the HEROES Act of $20 billion, consistent with the needs of Indian Country. In addition, require that the administration get the funds out the door in a timely manner, so they are not held up in the same way that the CARES Act funding was.
- Provide tribal set-asides from the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, and other department lending, guarantees, and forbearance programs to ensure that Tribal governments and entities can access these programs without burdensome restrictions.
As citizens of our respective Tribal Nations and the United States, we will continue to hold our representatives accountable for including us in the ongoing efforts to fight and survive this pandemic. The lives of millions of our people are on the line. We look forward to the day this has passed and to the new lessons that emerge from it.
Mvto, Wado, Sapé, Sincerely,
Tribal affiliation: Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Owen L. Oliver
Tribal affiliation: Quinault / Isleta Pueblo
Christie J. Wildcat
Tribal Affiliation: Northern Arapaho/Euchee/Navajo/Cherokee
Jazmine B. Wildcat
Tribal Affiliation:Northern Arapaho/Euchee/Navajo/Cherokee
Tribal Affiliation: Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Adam J. Soulor
Tribal Affiliation: Mohegan Tribe
Tribal Affiliation: St. Lawrence Island Siberian Yupik/Kenaitze Indian