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II. Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Affairs $900 Million

Tribal Consultation Written Comments Received American Rescue Plan – Indian Affairs Appropriations

This is section 2 of 5 sections. Access the Full PDF Version of the Comment Compilation Here.

Comments in grey box formatting were received after the comment deadline.

1. Majority of Funding through Tribal Government Funding Line to Give Tribes Flexibility to Reprogram

A.  Support

Facilitate maximum flexibility for the expeditious disbursement and implementation of Indian Country funds for addressing COVID-19 and its impacts. It is critical for the Department of the Interior to allow maximum flexibility in the use of new-and existing funds to enable tribal nations to carry out comprehensive COVID-19 response efforts.

  • In this time of crisis, the federal government, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), must facilitate the most flexibility possible so that our Tribe and others are able to quickly receive federal funding and use that funding in the most effective way possible to combat COVID-19 and its impacts.
  • Existing systems of service delivery and infrastructure will experience greater stress and/or reach their breaking points as tribal nations seek to maintain essential services, as well as dedicate resources to the unique circumstances of COVID-19 response. Failure to support tribal discretion in use of funds and resources will be disastrous for Santo Domingo Pueblo, as well as result in an incomplete response to this crisis, affecting the nation at-large. (02-Santo Domingo)

We support that at least $700 million of the $772.5 for tribal government services, public safety and justice, social services, Indian child welfare and related expenses be allocated to tribes through the Aid to Tribal Government line. Doing so will provide the maximum flexibility for tribes to get the funds where they are needed most. (03-Red Lake Band)

The tribal council will have the flexibility to use the funds as each need is addressed once we receive the final guidelines from the consultation. (05-Native Village of Kongiganak)

The Blue Lake Rancheria recommends providing this funding through Aid to Tribal Government funding line and allow tribes to reprogram as necessary. (06-Blue Lake Rancheria)

Congress simply appropriated tribal funds. Tribes should be allowed flexibility on how to utilize and invest those funds in their communities. It is not for DOI to now restrict how tribes use those funds. DOI should help the tribes, not direct the use of ARP funds. DOI should make clear its support of tribal flexibility before distribution to avoid confusion and inefficiencies. (07-Lower Brule)

Regarding the allocation of funds and distribution methodology. Within the bill's language, $772. 5 million is designated for tribal government services, such as public safety and justice, social services, Indian child welfare and related expenses. The Community is in support of the funding distribution utilizing the Aid to Tribal Government (TPA) funding line and allow tribes to reprogram as necessary. The Community is a self-governance Tribe. We encourage Indian Affairs to utilize the process of dispersal through our self- governance compact. The funding provided through the Aid to Tribal Government line item enables Tribes the flexibility to allocate funds to programs, services, functions, and activities as needed within the context of their self-governance agreements. Funds should be distributed to Tribes through self-determination contracts or self-governance compacts should not be decreased for federal administrative costs. (11-Ak-Chin Indian Community)

Yes, Calista believes it would, if this means that Tribes would be able to use the funds consistent with the flexibilities allowed for in the Indian Self-Determination Act, i.e., in any manner that each Tribe “deems to be in the best interest of the health and welfare of the Indian community being served.” (16 – Calista Corp.)

Yes. The Fort Belknap Indian Community supports maximum flexibility for tribal governments with ARP resources. Elected tribal leaders and their staff know the highest and best use of funds to be utilized in the community. (17-Fort Berthold)

Yes.  If funding is provided to Tribes through the Tribal government funding line, Tribes can reprogram it for other purposes and there will be sufficient flexibility.  The services provided by the Tribe would be covered through the bill language, all of which runs through the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians government. If provided in this manner, the Tribe will be able to move the funds to the area the funds are intended by the statute. (18-Sault Ste Marie)

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians would concur that providing funding through existing tribal government funding lines such as Aid to Tribal Governments would provide sufficient flexibility to reprogram as needed. (19-Confederated Tribes of Siletz)

GTB' s supports distribution of Section 11002 funding that provides the greatest flexibility for tribes consistent with each tribe's status under the Self-Determination Act or the related Self-Governance Act. Therefore, GTB supports the majority of the funding "through the tribal government funding line" as identified in question one…. And GTB supports the general comments made by the Seneca Nation at the March 25th consultation in response to questions 1 and 2 to the DTLL of March 16, 2021. (20-Grand Traverse Band)

The funding should acknowledge both contracting and compacting Tribes and Tribal Organizations under Title I and Title V of the Indian Self‐Determination Act (ISDA) and be distributed through those well‐established and successful agreements based on existing formulas. (65 - Cook Island Inlet)

CITC supports distributing the funding through the Aid to Tribal Government funding line to allow for the broadest possible use of the BIA’s ARP funding so essential to ensuring maximum flexibility to address the critical needs of Alaska Native communities in response to the COVID pandemic. 

  • To the extent that the entire portion is not allocated to Aid to Tribal Government (which we support), we suggest the following as particularly important to ensure adequate response to the pandemic: Workforce development; Social services; Economic development; Aid to Tribal Government; and Public Safety and Justice (More of CITC’s justification for this opinion can be found in their letter pg3).
  • The funding should support critical response functions to put people back to work through workforce development and the supporting functions that move people to self-sufficiency and get them back to work, such as child welfare, general assistance, burial assistance, aid to tribal government and the funding that allows Tribes and Tribal Organizations the flexibility to meet their own people where they are to help them address the multiple consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic and move Our People to self-sufficiency and self-determination. (65 - Cook Island Inlet)

Yes. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act acknowledges that tribes are uniquely suited to administer federally funded programs that benefit tribes and tribal communities. Disbursing ARP funds through each tribe’s Aid to Tribal Government program will allow tribes to structure programs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as each tribes deems to be in the best interest of the health and welfare of the Indian community being served. (66 – AVCP)

We endorse DOI’s decision to provide for maximum flexibility in the use of funds, to include, authorizing Tribes to reprogram, redesign, and reallocate funding to Tribally determined priorities at the local level. Broad flexibility in the use of funding will allow Tribes to address their most pressing needs as they continue to implement measures to protect the health and well-being of our Tribal citizens and community members. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

The Walker River Paiute supports the use of the tribal government funding line to distribute as much of the funding as possible. The ability to reprogram the American Rescue Plan funds to programs and project identified to meet the specific needs of the Walker River Paiute Tribes is essential to the Tribe’s continued response, recovery and future preparation efforts. (68 - Walker River Paiute)

Supports BIA using the flexible Aid to Tribal Government (TPA) line item to allocate $772.5 million in ARPA funds for tribal government services, public safety and justice (PSJ), social services, Indian child welfare, and related expenses.  (69 - Alaska Federation of Natives)

Funding provided through the tribal government funding line. Based on our experience with the funds we received under the CARES Act, tribal government funding line allowed us to utilize the funding in a manner that best serves the health and welfare of our tribe as long as it was used to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. We think that this, again, would be the most sufficient  in terms of flexibility. In addition, we are already familiar with most of the BIA regional staff and the processes involved in administering the funds. (70 - Yupiit of Andreafski)

To provide the greatest flexibility for tribes, we support that a majority of the funding be provided to tribes through the tribal government funding line so the Tulalip Tribes can reprogram this money accordingly based the unique needs of the Tulalip community. (72 - Tulalip Tribes)

Chemehuevi supports the direct distribution to the tribe for the tribe to properly allocate these funds where they will be most beneficial to the tribe. This process supports Chemehuevi’s interest in Tribal Self Determination. (75 - Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)

The CTUIR agrees that providing the majority of the $772.5M in funding to the tribal government funding line would provide the flexibility needed to utilize the funds provided that tribes could reprogram the funds to any authorized function in its Funding Agreement. (76 - CTUIR)

The Navajo Nation largely supports the efforts of the BIA to provide funding to tribal governments through the tribal government funding line so that tribal governments have the flexibility to reprogram this funding as needed. Time and time again, tribal governments have proven that they know what is best for their tribal members. Moreover, as the COVID pandemic has impacted each tribal community in different ways, the needs of communities vary across Indian Country. Thus, providing flexibility in the spending of these funds will provide the most beneficial for all tribal governments. (57-Navajo Nation)

We support distributing the funding through self-governance compacts and funding agreements. This allows for maximum flexibility for Tribes in prioritizing and expending the funding as they determine will best benefit the communities they serve. (48-Kawerak, Inc.)

It would be sufficient for the Tribe if majority of the funding was provided through the tribal government funding lines so that Tribes could reprogram for other purposes. Other factors that should be taken into consideration are rural Tribes with currently no BIA funding for schools or PSJ programs. The Tribe urges consideration for funding to put forth pilot/demonstration programs. These programs would improve school bus stop/school pick up safety areas: lighting, patrol enforcement, "safe paths to school" to improve school bus pick up locations or safe walking paths on "high traffic" Tribal roads or intersections. (44-Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians)

In that regard, the Community strongly supports the provision of those funds through the Aid to Tribal Government funding line with an important authorization that would broadly allow the Community to re-program those funds as necessary to address our specific needs. Rapid deployment and maximum flexibility are key to maximizing the tribal benefit from the use of those funds. (40-Metlakatla Indian Community)

We support DOI's proposal to funnel the bulk of the ARP funding through the Aid-to-Tribal Government process, and to dedicate an amount to public safety and justice services. (43-Pueblo of Laguna)

Yes. (21-Pueblo of Santa Ana)

Yes, for the purposes of the efficient transfer of funding allocations to each tribe.  But the Choctaw Nation strongly cautions against BIA deciding how much it will allocate to each tribe based upon a proportionate share of each tribe' s recurring base of individual TPA programs. Tribes have, over time reprogrammed their base funding amounts into different budget categories and as a result BIA would create many unfair anomalies if the BIA were to use proportional shares of specific TPA lines ( e.g., the Consolidated Tribal Grant Program—CTGP) to determine how much each tribe is allocated. (23-Choctaw Nation)

We firmly believe that the $900 million must be allocated with maximum flexibility to ensure that funds can be expended by tribal governments to address local needs.  There is no time for developing new funding mechanisms as the public health emergency continues to rage on.  BIA should send these monies out to tribal nations through existing program structures, where appropriate, and directly to tribal nations where such structures are not in place or are not inclusive of all tribal governments.  Furthermore, the BIA should make immediate direct payments from these funds to tribal nations through their existing ISDEAA agreements, as authorized by the ARPA.  (25-Oneida Nation)

Provide a majority of funding through Aid to Tribal Government (TPA) funding line and allow tribes to reprogram as necessary using a formula based on newly collected enrollment data, we would also like to see land base used in this process. (27-Chippewa Cree Tribe)

Using the tribe’s multi-year funding agreement is the most streamline process for funding delivery.  Flexibility is important to tribes and allows them to leverage all their resources to address their most important needs.  Tribes can be trusted to know their communities, the needs, and be creative in solving those needs.  This process seemed to work efficiently and fairly under the CARES Act and should be used again. (30-Yurok Tribe)

Yes, in order to ensure maximum flexibility to reprogram, redesign, and reallocate funding to programs and services needed to fight the pandemic is provided to Tribal governments, SGAC strongly supports the transfer of funds through existing compacts, contracts, and funding agreements.  (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

USET SPF strongly supports DOI’s proposal to distribute the majority of this sum through the Aid to Tribal Government (TPA) funding line, which will provide maximum flexibility to Tribal Nations as we seek to address the unique circumstances each of us faces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  (32-USET SPF)

We would prefer for flexibility of funding through the Aid to Tribal Government (TP A) funding line and all the tribes to reprogram as necessary, this would be best for LLBO. (33-Leech Lake Band)

We firmly believe that the $900 million must be allocated with maximum flexibility to ensure that funds can be expended by tribal governments to address local needs.  With the vast differences between tribal nations on COVID-19 impacts, internal capacities, accessible local resources, and geographic locations (with the myriad ancillary challenges that arise for rural and remote communities like ours) flexibility is an absolute necessity.  Congress provided for maximum flexibility when it appropriated the BIA funding by category without any further limitations on how the resources can be used…We urge the BIA to interpret this and other provisions as flexibly as possible. (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background)

Generally, White Earth appreciates and approves of your preliminary distribution methods.  Foremost, White Earth supports that at least $700 million of the $772.5 million for tribal government services, public safety and justice, social services, Indian child welfare and related expenses be allocated to tribes through the Aid to Tribal Government line.  Doing so will provide the maximum flexibility for tribes to get the funds where they are needed most. (36-White Earth)

All funding provided in ARPA section 11102(a)(2) should be provided to tribes using flexible funding lines that allow for reprogramming. For many tribes this is the tribal government funding line, also known as "ATG".  Tribes successfully used this line to respond to the pandemic when it was used for CARES Act distributions, there is no need to complicate the process with the larger ARP A allocations. (37-Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

Congress provided for maximum flexibility in the use of these funds without any further limitations on how they can be used.  Thus, we believe that the $900 million must be allocated with maximum flexibility to ensure that funds can be expended by tribal governments to address local needs.  PGST supports the funding through Aid to Tribal Government (TPA) methodology used as when negotiating our Multi-Year Funding Agreement to allow us to reprogram as necessary. (38-Port Gamble S’Klallam; see comments for more background)

We support the Department’s decision to use the Aid to Tribal Government program line for funding distribution in order to provide Tribes with the greatest flexibility to reprogram dollars to address the Tribally-determined areas of need. Our primary concern is making sure all Federally Recognized Tribes receive a portion of the $900 million in ARP funding and that no Tribe is left out due to not receiving dollars through the Aid to Tribal Government line. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

Aid to Tribal Governments: MCN fully supports the majority of available funding to be distributed utilizing recent enrollment data certified by tribal governments through the Aid to Tribal Governments (ATG) Tribal Priority Allocation. This distribution should be based on a pro-rata distribution using available data, versus the striated approached previously utilized. The break over points in the striated distribution was not the subject of tribal consultation and likely disadvantages tribes either at the top or bottom of the tiers for distributions. Collection of updated data seems reasonably attainable and, therefore, a proportional distribution would result in more equitable distributions. (80 – Muscogee Creek Nation)

We support distributing the funding through self-governance compacts and funding agreements. This allows for maximum flexibility for Tribes in prioritizing and expending the funding as they determine will best benefit the communities they serve. However, it is difficult to know based on the information that has been provided to us by DOI what restrictions may come with sending funding to tribes/tribal orgs through this funding line. What other restrictions will be imposed on the use of such funding? We agree with sending this funding through our funding agreements but caution that DOI must adhere to self-governance principles and allow Tribes to redesign, reallocate and prioritize this funding to most effectively utilize it where it is needed the most in our region of Alaska. Overly burdensome and unnecessary restrictions will nullify the benefits of distributing this through SG agreements. (83-Tanana Chiefs Conference)

B.  Use of Existing Funding Mechanisms

Additionally, we would recommend the transfer funds through existing compacts, contracts, and funding agreements. Contract and Compact amendments should be streamlined and not impose any additional restrictions or requirements other than those included in the Act. . (19-Confederated Tribes of Siletz)

We also strongly support the use of existing funding mechanisms for funding distribution purposes, to include, Self-Governance compacts, Self-Determination contracts and Funding Agreements. Utilizing these existing mechanisms will ensure distribution is completed in an expeditious and efficient manner. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

Yes, the majority of the funding should be provided to tribes through existing agreements (Title I and Title IV contracts/compacts).  Tribes should be able to reprogram, redesign, and reallocate funding to programs and services needed to fight the pandemic.  Tribes should also be able to purchase supplies and equipment to ensure their governments are able to safely function and operate. (25-Oneida Nation)

C.  Funding Methodology

Do not allocate to the tribe based upon a proportionate share of each tribe’s recurring base of individual TPA programs.  Tribes have, over time[,] reprogrammed their base funding amounts into different budget categories and as a result[,] BIA would create many unfair anomalies if the BIA were to use proportional shares of specific TPA lines (e.g., the Consolidated Tribal Grant Program-CTGP) to determine how much each tribe is allocated. (23-Choctaw Nation)

Distribution of funds on a needs-based approach would more efficiently and effectively distribute federal funds to areas where they can make the greatest difference in this pandemic.  (24-Oglala Sioux Tribe)

All tribes should receive the same allocation due to their unique situation as they all encounter and experience the same conditions living in rural Alaska. (26-Qinarmiut Corporation; see comments for more background)

The SGAC cautions Indian Affairs that allocations to each Tribal government should not be based upon a proportionate share of each Tribal governments’ recurring base of individual TPA programs.  Tribal governments have, over time, reprogrammed their base funding amounts into different budget categories and as a result Indian Affairs would create many unfair anomalies if it were to use proportional shares of a specific TPA line to determine how much each Tribal government is allocated. (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

Funding allocations should use existing methodologies that rely upon well-known and understood factors, such as user population. Developing a new methodology could delay the transfer of funds and increase the burden on Tribal recipients to provide or verify new data points. (19-Confederated Tribes of Siletz)

However, we do have concerns with DOI’s proposal to base the distribution methodology on the newly collected enrollment data, including the possibility of utilizing groupings by enrollment size.  Recognizing there are existing methodologies for the distribution of funds through this line, the impact of the proposed methodology is currently unclear and is deserving of further consultation in and of itself.  DOI must ensure that Tribal Nations are fully aware of the differences between utilizing existing or proposed methodologies. (32-USET SPF)

We would, however, oppose predicating allocations on a proportionate share of each Tribes recurring base in the Aid to Tribal Government line as many Self-Governance Tribes have, over time, reprogrammed their funding amounts into different budget categories. If the intent is fair and equitable distribution, it wouldn’t be appropriate to penalize Tribes who reallocated resources into other lines. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

D.  Restrictions on Funds and Reporting Requirements

DOI should also refrain from instituting any additional measures that would restrict the use of funds or impose additional reporting requirements on Tribes. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

However, it is difficult to know based on the information that has been provided to us by DOI what restrictions may come with sending funding to tribes/tribal orgs through this funding line. What other restrictions will be imposed on the use of such funding? We agree with sending this funding through our funding agreements but caution that DOI must adhere to self-governance principles and allow Tribes to redesign, reallocate and prioritize this funding to most effectively utilize it where it is needed the most in our region of Alaska. Overly burdensome and unnecessary restrictions will nullify the benefits of distributing this through SG agreements. (48-Kawerak, Inc.)

We recommend that BIA maximize use of streamlined reporting for these new funds.  Any reporting that is absolutely necessary should be subsumed into reporting we already provide to the BIA. (24-Oglala Sioux Tribe; see comments for more background)

In addition, the SGAC emphatically opposes the Department placing additional reporting requirements not directed by the Act on these funds.  Tribal governments already adhere to reporting required in their Self-Determination and Self-Governance agreements. (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

We recommend that BIA maximize use of streamlined reporting for these new funds.  Any reporting that is absolutely necessary should be subsumed into reporting we already provide to the BIA.  Additionally, we recommend that the BIA allocate funds directly to tribal governments under the tribal government services sub-category for internal capacity development. (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background, especially Workforce Development and Child Welfare and Related Services)

E.  Other Comments re: Use of Tribal Government Funding Line

The Office of the Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) process for distributing $900 million in ARP funds to tribal governments; This is very important and needs to be equitably distributed to Tribes so that they individually can decide where the funds should go to and meet needs they individually have prioritized. For example, our Tribal Public Works Department has identified 26 road, housing, other building, historical preservation site, potable and wastewater project needs at the $13,000,000-$14,000,000 cost level alone. (78-Coeur D’Alene)

Which parts of the funding will be allocated directly to the tribe and which parts of the funding if any do we have to apply for directly?  The BIA infrastructure funds is this a portion that will be directly allocated or something we have to apply for? (22-Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi)

It is critically important that DOI allows for the broadest possible use of the funding so that Tribes receiving ARPA funding have maximum flexibility to tailor the funding to fit the specific needs of their own communities…adopt an approach in which Tribes may determine for themselves how to put the ARPA funding to use in their own communities, so long as the funding is generally used in furtherance of the intent of the ARPA for expenditures made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. This approach would be grounded in proven self-governance principles… We request the following in your overall approach:

  • 1. Do not establish detailed qualified expenses that is exclusive so that if it is not on the list, it is not a qualified expense. Tribal communities’ needs and solutions are not a one-size-fit-all, so you cannot take that approach in developing funding guidelines. Also please prevent problems Tribes faced with CARE ACT funding by including restrictions on expenses that unnecessarily tie up this funding so that such restrictions become barriers or unknowns that raise concerns about audits, as well as the practically of getting the services to the tribal communities in a reasonable amount of time.

  • 2. Ensure that the deadlines to expend the funds are realistic and feasible. Extend them out to give Tribes adequate time. The effects of the pandemic will be impacting us for years. Additionally, given Alaska’s distance from the continental U.S. and the geographical isolation of 100’s of tribal communities with the State, the reality of a limited amount of supplies/equipment/materials available, and shipping items to these communities can extend project completion from months to years.
  • Whatever the process, ensure that all Tribes, large land based or not, large or small population, are receiving an equitable share of the funding, if necessary, by distributing a percentage of the funding as a base amount not tied to other considerations such as population. (83-Tanana Chiefs Conference)

2. Using Tribal Enrollment Count for Tribal Government Services Funding

A.  Support

ASIA/BIA Process for Distributing $900M ARP Funds -- These funds should be distributed among all Tribes on a population-based formula. The only reason that we are consistently given by the BIA as to why the Kialegee Tribal Town cannot receive funding for the full-range of BIA programs outlined in the Green Book, is because of a lack of funding. We have unmet needs that are proportionally impactful to any level of underfunding to larger Tribes. By distributing these ARP funds only to Tribes with existing Green Book programs, other Tribes, such as ours,

are being doubly penalized by not receiving regularly appropriated funding nor funding through ARP. Now that additional funds are available through the ARP, an equitable distribution plan must include some substantial amount of funding going to every Tribe throughout the country. (09-Kialegee Tribal Town)

We support a funding formula based upon the newly collected tribal enrollment data and not based on HUD IHBG data (FBIC was drastically undercounted). We agree that enrollment size is

an important factor but we strongly recommend a ceiling and a floor for a funding formula. In specific, tribes with minimal or low tribal enrollments should receive a base allocation (in order to receive some rescue plan relief, unlike the CARES Act with the IHBG formula) and, in contrast, the tribes with the largest tribal enrollments should not receive the vast majority of all ARP funds to the detriment of the vast number of the 574 federally recognized tribes with tribal enrollments that exist in between these two extreme enrollment numbers. The adjusted methodology, with a floor and a ceiling, based on the most recent tribal enrollment data would represent an equitable distribution of ARP funds for Indian country. (17-Fort Berthold)

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians has no objection to funding being distributed by enrollment data. It is something we recommend. (18-Sault Ste Marie)

We support DOI’s plan to utilize Tribal enrollment data for distribution of the ARP funding resources. We believe this process will ensure consistency across regions, align with the intent of establishing a fair and equitable distribution process, adhere to measures that attempt to ensure the secure management of data, and allow for the expeditious disbursement of funding to Tribes. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

To equitably distribute the funding, we support the methodology for the Tribal Government Services funding on tribal enrollment data certified by the Tribal Chair of each tribe. We have no concerns with the certification form proposed by DOI-BIA. (72 - Tulalip Tribes)

We support the use of the Pueblo's certification of enrolled members for use as a yardstick in determining the Pueblo's governmental responsibilities in a formula for distribution of ARP funding. (43-Pueblo of Laguna)

The Yurok Tribe supports a methodology that utilizes Tribal self-certified enrollment data to be used in a similar formula to that of CARES Act BIA-OSG funding.  The Yurok Tribe can quickly and easily provide up to the minute enrollment information whenever requested and agrees that the distribution should be population based.  (30-Yurok Tribe)

SGAC supports a distribution methodology based on Tribally-certified data of its enrolled citizens that DOI will collect using its proposed form for Tribal Certification of Enrollment Data.  (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

A formula based on population was somewhat successful for CARES but failed many tribes by using HUD IHBG data, which itself is a modification of the U.S. decennial census data and historically undercounts tribal citizens in Indian Country.  Using a tribally certified enrollment figure rather than a flawed federal data source would be a significant improvement for funding distributions, now and in the future.  If population is used as the primary weighting factor in a formula, there should be no need for grouping or tiering of funds.  DOI should be able to distribute funds pro-rata according to the total enrollment, per tribe. (37-Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

B.  Oppose Using Tribal Enrollment Count as Sole Factor

As a direct service Tribe with relatively low enrollment, we are concerned that DOI appears to intend to tie ARP funding to tribal enrollment and 638 funding. A better formula would be more holistic and account for overall harm to direct service tribes during this time by considering not only enrollment but also need. One readily ascertainable source of data relied on throughout federal programs is the most recent census data. This is a similar approach utilized in lending programs targeting severely distressed communities where, not coincidentally, health disparities are largest. Such an approach would target funding with the greatest impact. (07-Lower Brule)

In regards to the equitable distribution of funding, the base methodology for Tribal Government Services funding is necessary to include Tribal enrollment data, however, there are other factors in relation to providing services to our Members.

  • The inclusion of total land base would be another factor that should be considered. The Ak- Chin Indian Community consists of over 22, 000 acres, including domestic, agriculture, and cultural preserved land.
  • Dependable roads are a critical factor to be considered. For example, road maintenance is essential with providing safe roads for multiple functions, such as public safety or emergency services in regards to services provided to our Community Members. (11-Ak-Chin Indian Community)

Yes. As discussed above, the BIA ARP funds should be distributed using a fair, balanced distribution formula that incorporates not only tribal enrollment, but also geographic remoteness, basic sanitation and other critical infrastructure needs, as well as the health, social and economic disparities that are disproportionately suffered by small remote Tribes, including the Y-K Delta region Tribes….We urge caution in using tribal enrollment data alone to determine distribution of BIA ARP funds. The reality is that small, remote Tribes, including the 56 Tribes of the Y-K Delta region, lack basic infrastructure; have a high cost of living; and lack basic services such as water and sanitation. Using tribal enrollment alone to determine distribution of BIA ARP funds, without taking into account the health, social and economic disparities suffered by small remote Tribes, would result in gross inequities. The Department of Interior should uphold the Trust Responsibility to all Tribes in its distribution of BIA ARP funds by not using overly simplistic formulas that will result in gross inequities. Rather, it should develop a fair, balanced distribution formula that incorporates not only tribal enrollment, but also the health, social and economic disparities that are disproportionately suffered by small remote Tribes. We urge the Department to also consider geographic remoteness and lack of basic sanitation, and other critical infrastructure, in formulating the distribution methodology.  (16-Calista Corp.)

GTB supports the equitable distribution of Section 11002 ARP funding based on tribal enrollment as established by a time certain date for all tribes. In addition, GTB supports the previously utilized CARES Act formula for distribution of the Section 11002 funding. Equitable distribution should be a formula that considers not only tribal enrollment but also the governance responsibility of Indian tribes. For practical federal funding purposes in measuring the particular tribal governance responsibility, GTB would urge the use of a median number over several years of the tribe's schedule federal expenditures of federal awards (SEFA) contained in audit statements as the measure of the tribes' governance responsibility and the consequence measure of the tribes' eligibility for Section 11002 funding….And GTB supports the general comments made by the Seneca Nation at the March 25th consultation in response to questions 1 and 2 to the DTLL of March 16, 2021.

  • GTB supports the comments of the representative of the Great Plains Tribes requesting clarification, explanation and potential further consultation and possible legislation to ensure that indirect costs are fully covered for the tribal administration of Section 11002 funding.
  • Special circumstances of individual tribes based on recent Supreme Court decisions should not be a basis for distribution of Section 11002 funding. The circumstances of the development of Indian law jurisprudence is constantly evolving and therefore should be addressed in the annual funding cycle of the tribes' relationship with the federal trustee or through tribal specific legislative language.
  • Previous CARES Act consultation requested tribal information on four factors: land, population, number of tribal employees, and total expenditures. GTB believes that the current number of employees and federal expenditures should be given the greater weight over tribal population and land. Population can consist of tribal enrollment both on and off the reservation and both within and outside the service area. Thus, the use of population is highly variable in light of the overlapping tribal service areas of multiple tribes. (20-Grand Traverse Band)

We understand that an enrollment based distribution may shortchange Alaska overall. Many Alaska Natives are not formally enrolled in their Tribes because they can still receive federal services by showing they are a shareholder in an Alaska Native Corporation. As such, using pure enrollment numbers will not count these Alaska Natives which will likely impact Curyung. However, we recognize that using our enrollment data is the most accurate information available. (62 - Curyung Tribal Council)

The allocation method cannot be based on enrollment or population numbers alone. Cost of living, infrastructure limitations, and other considerations must also be factored into the allocation method. In 2020, Alaska was the sixth most expensive state to live in. These costs are multiplied exponentially in rural Alaska. According to the U.S. Department of Defense cost-of-living index for “overseas” locations, which include Alaska and Hawaii, the cost of living in the YK-Delta hub-community of Bethel is 50% higher than the U.S. average. The cost of living in rural YK-Delta villages is even higher, but survey information is not immediately available. (66 – AVCP)

While self-certified enrollment should be used as one factor to determine distribution of American Rescue Plan funds, the exclusive use of enrollment would result in a grossly unfair distribution and place small, rural tribes such as the Walker River Paiute Tribe at a severe disadvantage. Additional factors such as land base, geographical isolation, economic barriers and the complexity of serving members across the nation should also be taken into consideration. (68 - Walker River Paiute)

AFN respectfully asks the Bureau to build a fair and equitable formula that includes more than “newly collected enrollment data” and “a simple grouping by enrollment size.” BIA Should Build an Equitable Formula to Dispense ARPA Funds; Such Funds Should Not be Allocated Based on Population Alone. BIA Should Allocate ARPA Funds for Tribal Government Services, PSJ, Social Services, Indian Child Welfare and Related Expenses Based on Population and Poverty Variables, and Provide a Cost of Living Adjustment. (see comment for additional justification pg. 4-6) (69 - Alaska Federation of Natives)

We are in a remote, sparsely populated area and that translates into higher costs to acquire materials and services. To illustrate, last summer we purchased a two unit trailer to use as a quarantine facility for $96,000 in Anchorage. Shipping by barge line to St. Mary’s cost an additional $56,000. Last month we purchased 18 sheets of plywood and 19 pieces of lumber of various lengths for $1,247.00 from a supply company in Anchorage. Shipping by air to St. Mary’s cost an additional $1,234.00. If the funding formula does not take into account the cost factors we have here in our remote village, then it is not equitable. (70 - Yupiit of Andreafski)

The Tribe recommends an equitable distribution of funds between and among federally recognized Indian Tribes. The Tribe urges the BIA to prioritize the following factors:

  • Tribal population, as measured by the total number of enrolled Tribal citizens for each Tribe, not Census Bureau data or Indian Housing Block Grant formula area populations. (see comment for additional justification pg1-2)
  • Tribal land base, as measured by total Indian country acreage, not Tribal Statistical Areas. (see comment for additional justification pg2)
  • Tribal economic need, as measured by the percentage of Tribal households living in poverty. (see comment for additional justification pg2)
  • Tribal government expenditures. (see comment for additional justification pg2)
  • Tribal employees. (see comment for additional justification pg2)
  • Public safety and justice needs. (see comment for additional justification pg3) (71 - Cheyenne River Sioux)

Tribal economic need, as measured by the percentage of Tribal households living in poverty. In allocating funds to Indian Tribes, the BIA should take into account the relative economic hardship of each Indian Tribe, measured by the poverty rate of individuals living on the Indian reservation or within the Indian country of each Tribe, based on the most recent year for which such data are available from the Census Bureau. (We acknowledge the limitations of Census data, but we are aware of no more comprehensive or reliable datt;1 on economic hardship throughout Indian country.)

  • The greater a Tribe's economic hardship, the greater its expenditures are on governmental services, including governmental services related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Tribes with high poverty rates are likely to have high rates of unemployment, homelessness, overcrowded and unsafe housing, lack of utilities, food, and other basic necessities, and high rates of underlying comorbid health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Such Tribes are also likely to have greater need for governmental services, social services, child welfare services, and other related expenses.
  • Tribal government expenditures. In allocating funds to Indian Tribes, the BIA should take into account total Tribal government expenditures.
  • Tribal employees. Indian Tribes must provide services to Tribal employees, which include unemployment benefits, health care; and other services. Accordingly, the BIA should consider the number of Tribal employees in the distribution of BIA ARPA funds to Indian Tribes.
  • Tribal land base, as measured by total Indian country acreage, not Tribal Statistical Areas. In allocating funds to Indian Tribes, the BIA should take into account the Indian country land base of each Tribe, inducing reservation lands, off-reservation trust lands, and dependent Indian communities, as defined in 18 U.S.C § 1151; but not including Tribal Statistical Areas. The size of an Indian Tribe's land base is directly related to its expenditures on governmental services, including expenditures related to the COVID-19 public health emergency; since transportation costs and the costs of providing remote health care, housing assistance, food, supportive services, arid other governmental services in disbursed, rural areas are greater than in more densely populated areas. In addition, Tribes with larger land bases have greater needs for funding on roads maintenance, which is directly related to public safety. (73 - Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate)

We believe that any formula based on enrollment or population must consider other factors. In our region, our Tribes are small in proportion to larger land based Tribes elsewhere. However we are some of the most remote communities in the nation, completely off the road system, with significantly greater challenges to our supply lines and basic provision of life health and safety functions such as law enforcement, health care, and basic infrastructure. If there is to be any additional consideration for this amount, it should be a cost of living differential factored in for Alaska tribes given the exponentially greater costs associated with living and operating in rural Alaska. (48-Kawerak, Inc.)

Finally, as to the distribution methodology, the Community's reservation is located on an island approximately 15 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska. The only ways for goods or services to reach our reservation is by boat or plane, the regular delivery of which can often be impacted by severe and unpredictable weather. Given our location, we strongly recommend that the DOI use an enhancement factor to the enrollment and/or census allocation metric to account for the increased costs of goods and services resulting from our rural and isolated location and climate conditions. Simply, goods and services cost more in our Community than the same things cost in other areas that are closer to large urban centers, that do not require costly shipping or travel expenses to get to the reservation and/or that are located in milder climates. A reasonable measure to use for the enhancement factor applicable to tribes whose reservations are rural and isolated could be setting it at 10% higher than the overall cost-of-living index for the tribe's closest urban center. (40-Metlakatla Indian Community)

Distribution of funds on a needs-based approach would more efficiently and effectively distribute federal funds to areas where they can make the greatest difference in this pandemic.  It would also respect the diversity of internal capacities and COVID-19 response and recovery conditions that exist across the 574 distinct tribal governments operating across Pueblo and Indian Country.  (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background, especially Workforce Development and Child Welfare and Related Services)

We believe that any formula based on enrollment or population must consider other factors.

  • In our region, our Tribes are small in proportion to larger land based Tribes elsewhere. However we are some of the most remote communities in the nation, completely off the road system, with significantly greater challenges to our supply lines and basic provision of life health and safety functions such as law enforcement, health care, and basic infrastructure. If there is to be any additional consideration for this amount, it should be a cost of living differential factored in for Alaska tribes given the exponentially greater costs associated with living and operating in rural Alaska.
  • The United States owes ALL federally recognized Indian tribes and individual beneficiaries a special trust responsibility. This responsibility is grounded in federal-tribal treaties, the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, and commands the highest moral and legal obligations.3 Today this responsibility is often fulfilled by the various federal agencies through their respective tribal funding formulas. (83-Tanana Chiefs Conference)

C.  “Membership” Too Limiting; Consider Tribe’s Service Population

We urge the BIA not to restrict funding solely to entities with “membership” to identify the allocation of resources. This results in inhibiting Alaska Native people from receiving services in the most efficient and effective ways and disenfranchises almost half of the Alaska Native people in the state from access to these important resources. (65 - Cook Island Inlet)

We support basing the distribution methodology upon updated, tribally certified enrollment data.  Regarding the enrollment size groupings, we strongly encourage BIA to consider that the single, most significant factor in responding to the COVID-19 emergency is the number of citizens being served.  The types of assistance include economic assistance, food security, student technology, child and family services, homelessness, and the like.  The need for resources associated with these services is primarily driven by the population served.  Therefore, the full population to be served must be represented to the greatest extent possible in the distribution of ARP funding.  Grouping by enrollment size needlessly disadvantages tribes whose numbers fall near the low end of a number group and advantages those tribes whose numbers fall near the top end of a number group.  Instead, the Choctaw Nation supports a simple spreadsheet calculation that allocates a proportional share amount to each tribe's specific member count. (23-Choctaw Nation)

Another important factor to consider is that many tribes serve their entire reservation community, not just the enrolled members living there.  For example, the Yurok Tribe provides and is expanding internet to whole villages, not just tribal members, enabling to call emergency services in areas without cell service as well as work from home and school from home capabilities.  In another example, we have provided COVID-19 testing to the whole community for months.  This cultural practice is also effective, as this pandemic can be more efficiently managed when considering and serving the community as a whole. (30-Yurok Tribe; see comments for more background)

Yes.  The Pueblo provides services for individuals that reside within the boundaries of the Pueblo that are traditionally accepted.  To equitably provide for all Pueblo families, the traditionally accepted individuals should be considered into the overall data. (21-Pueblo of Santa Ana)

PGST does not only serve our enrolled members, PGST serves other natives residing in our community and surrounding area, using the enrollment methodology is not ideal for us. (38-Port Gamble S’Klallam)

Population in any form is not necessarily a good determinate of need as it does not take into account cost factors such as geographic remoteness or the economies of scale gained when serving urbanized populations as opposed to scattered rural populations. For this reason we would prefer a distribution method that minimized the use of population at all.

  • We suggest using the best available “service population” data, or alternatively to use the allocation percentages currently used to distribute “Aid to Tribal Government” as found in the BIA “Green Book” and our respective tribal funding agreements.
  • To the extent population is used in the funding formula, we suggest using the best available service population data, i.e. resident Native Americans in a tribe’s location. That may be census data, or possibly data collected by other agencies. If that is not possible to do on short notice – and we don’t know which data set would be best – the fallback position should be to use the existing allocation used for “Aid to Tribal Government” program funding. Historically this had an “equal per tribe” component as well as population. Although dated, that allocation is familiar and has worked for many years.
  • We are also very concerned that DOI would consider using a data set that no one has seen. Although some of our low-population tribes might benefit by using enrollment, it is virtually impossible to tell without actually analyzing the national numbers. … Tribal enrollment is particularly problematic because tribes have widely varying enrollment qualifications, and because enrollment as such has little to do with the actual service population. Most BIA and IHS service programs are provided on a residency basis – services are limited to Native Americans but are not typically dependent on enrollment in a particular tribe. In our region BBNA, and most of our tribes, provide services to Native residents but not to people who may be tribal members but live in Anchorage or Seattle. (There are some exceptions, such as for Indian Child Welfare services.) (60 - Bristol Bay Native Assn)

Tribal enrollment represents only a fraction of the individuals Tribes serve.

  • Many Tribes provide programs and services to more than just enrolled Tribal citizens, to include, Tribal descendants who are not eligible for enrollment, other American Indians and Alaska Natives in a Tribe’s service area, Tribal community members married to Tribal citizens/descendants and their children, essential employees (police officers, teachers, healthcare workers) and other vital community members.
  • The use of enrollment numbers as a factor to determine a pro rata share of funding tends to benefit Tribes with large populations of enrolled members. If the intent is to provide funding based on the individuals a Tribe serve, enrollment may not be the best determinant.
  • Tribes with large populations may not provide services to all of these individuals. Some Tribes choose to limit services to enrolled members who reside on or near the reservation only, leaving out a large portion of members whose numbers would still be used to determine their allocation of funding, resulting in a windfall of resources to certain Tribes. On the other hand, small Tribes with lower enrollment numbers may choose to serve a broader base of individuals, to include, descendants, AI/AN, and other vital community members but their funding would be limited to only enrolled Tribal citizens. The result being that a small Tribe could be providing services to more community members than a larger Tribe with a larger enrollment population but the smaller Tribe would receive significantly less in funding.
  • Due to the uniqueness and cultural differences of every Tribe it is extremely difficult to identify a method of distribution that will be acceptable to everyone given the limited data metrics at our disposal. Expediency requires that we resort to the quickest method of funding distribution with the intent of fair and equitable distribution that will be acceptable to a majority of the Tribes.
  • Second, if enrollment numbers are being used to determine funding, fairness and equity would require that an individual should be counted as an enrolled member of one Tribal government and not as an enrolled member of a Tribe, and a shareholder of a village or regional corporation. Federally Recognized Tribal Governments determine membership. Alaska Native Corporations do not have enrolled members, they provide services to shareholders. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

D.  Grouping by Enrollment

The CTUIR recommends that, in order to equitably distribute the funding, BIA should not allocate the funding based on the grouping of tribes in enrollment categories as done under the CARES Act. Instead, the BIA should use the actual enrollment figures certified by the tribes for pro-rata allocation of the funding.( 76 – CTUIR)

BIA is considering a distribution methodology based on grouping by enrollment size, similar to the approach used by BIA for CARES Act funds. We didn't realize BIA used a "grouping by enrollment" method last year. We would like to know the specifics of this method. Why can't BIA just prorate funding based on each tribes actual enrollment number? (03-Red Lake Band)

We think it would be most equitable if it is evenly distributed by enrollment data alone without grouping by size. The Nation is fine with a minimum allocation amount for the smaller tribes but think the rest should be distributed evenly based on enrollment. (25-Oneida Nation)

The SGAC has concerns about “grouping by enrollment size” as it needlessly disadvantages Tribal Nations whose numbers fall near the bottom of the group and advantages those Tribal Nations whose numbers are near the top of a group. (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

We understand BIA is considering a distribution methodology based on grouping by enrollment size, similar to the approach used by BIA for CARES Act funds.  White Earth was unaware that the BIA used a "grouping by enrollment" method last year.  We would like the specifics of this method released to tribal leaders and the reason why the funding cannot be prorated based on each tribe's actual enrollment number. (36-White Earth)

E.  Other Comments Regarding Use of Tribal Enrollment

It is crucial the allocation reflect that every Tribal Court requires a minimum amount of funding to operate. The smallest tribes received a negligible amount of Covid-19 relief thus far (e.g., Blue Lake Rancheria received ~$100,000 out of an $8 billion in the CARES Act tribal government funding, despite being one of the most important governmental providers of Covid-19 response and recovery services in its rural region). (06-Blue Lake Rancheria) How will membership numbers affect the allocation if membership has been significantly increased after February 1? (22-Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi)

3. Setting Aside Funding for PSJ, Based on Existing Allocation of Base Funding

A. Support

Regarding distribution of any Public Safety & Justice funding, we support BIA's thoughts on distributing these funds based on existing Base allocations of PSJ funding for tribes. This represents the best way to get the funds to existing tribal law enforcement programs, which are already terribly underfunded by BIA, and who need additional resources to continue to respond to the Pandemic. (03-Red Lake Band)

Public Safety will be greatly accepted which is continually a need yet to be met in its entirety, they will be used toward the alleviation of the need we have. (05-Native Village of Kongiganak)

The Tribal Consultation noted that Public Safety and Justice (PSJ) funding is not being considered a Tribal Priority Allocation and cannot be easily reprogrammed by Tribes. The Community is in support of a set aside funding of the $ 772. 5 million for PSJ programs. The Community is in support of utilizing the existing allocation of (recurring annual) funding levels. Additional factors that should be considered are current staffing levels of both the Ak-Chin Police Department; including the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) reports, reported annually by the Ak-Chin Police Department. There should also be consideration of the Ak- Chin Courts staffing levels and also Court data, as well as court programming. (11-Ak-Chin Indian Community)

We agree with BIA on their recommendation to set aside monies for public safety and justice programs which are very important to the tribe as well. Currently, with competitive federal funding from USDOJ, we do administer [and want to continue administering] tribal police, tribal courts, OVW and OVC programs, programs that address a variety of public safety and justice issues that will continue even when funding ends. (15-Asa’carsarmiut)

Yes, provided that the significant public safety challenges of small remote Tribes, including the 56 Tribes of the Y-K Delta region, should be fully and fairly taken into account in the OSJ base allocation formula, if it is not already. Y-K Delta Tribes suffer from some of the highest rates of murder, sexual assault and other violent crimes in the nation. These funds should be allocated in a manner that upholds the trust responsibility to all Tribes, including those that suffer the most from public safety challenges. (16-Calista Corp.)

Public safety and justice (PSJ) funding is critical to large land-based tribes. Consequently, we support setting aside some of the ARP funds for PSJ programs and agree that the most logical formula would be based on recurring annual funding levels for DJS-funded programs, with consideration of land base as a factor. First responders and law enforcement have challenging circumstances in covering substantial distances in remote tribal areas to address public safety in general and, perhaps even more so, with public health and safety for citizens of our community during this pandemic. (17-Fort Berthold)

For PSJ programs, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians currently uses BIA funding for public safety enforcement, conservation management, and juvenile detention operations. For the public safety enforcement, the funds are used to help enforce the protection, safety, and well-being of the tribal community.

  • Sault Tribe law enforcement currently employs 22 sworn-in officers where the main office is in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and in satellite offices located in St. Ignace, Michigan; Kincheloe, Michigan; and Manistique, Michigan. For conservation management, the funding received is used to increase the presence of conservation law enforcement officers on Indian lands for the protection, conservation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife species; including habitat protection and larger ecosystem integrity, Indian treaty rights protection, cooperative management, emergency response in rural areas, cultural resource protection, and other forest, water, and agriculture resource protection. For juvenile detention operations, Sault Tribe oversees the operation and administration of the Sault Tribe juvenile detention facility, located in St. Ignace. This 25-bed facility houses youth ages 11-17 who are court-ordered to a detention facility. Sault Tribe would have no objection to distribution for these programs based on the existing allocation of the base for these programs.    (18-Sault Ste Marie)

GTB agrees with the BIA's proposed distribution of public safety and justice funding. (20-Grand Traverse Band)

We support the allocation of $30 million for public safety and justice based on existing allocation of recurring annual funding levels for the Office of Justice Services (OJS) Tribally operated programs. Tribes who currently receive recurring public safety and justice funding should receive a proportionate share of the ARP funding without question.

  • Other factors that are usually required in order to receive public safety and justice funding, such as, the requirement that a Tribe have submitted all of their monthly crime and drug reports every month for the prior year should not be used to deny Tribes their allocation. Also, OJS has used other factors to determine eligibility for one time funding, to include, factors such as, violent crime rate, staffing levels/shortages by ratio, size of trust land service area, and drug related offenses. When these additional factors are applied, small Tribes with limited trust lands and lower crime rates are often disadvantaged and denied funding. We would urge the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)/OJS to ensure every eligible Tribe receives a pro rata share of the $30 million allocation. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

The Walker River Paiute Tribe supports setting aside up 40% of the $772.5 million for PSJ to be equitably distributed among the 574 federally recognized tribes. The Walker River Paiute Tribe’s public safety and justice programs are critically underfunded and do not provide the financial resources to provide services at the level needed to effectively support the community. Any additional funding provided under the American Rescue Plan would allow the tribe to enhance and expand these essential services that have experienced challenges in staffing and an increase in services as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (68 - Walker River Paiute)

Because public safety and justice (PSJ) funding is not considered a Tribal Priority Allocation and cannot be easily reprogrammed by Tribes, we support you setting aside some of the $772.5 million for PSJ programs. We also support you distributing these funds based on the existing allocation of base (recurring annual) funding level for OJS funded, tribally operated, programs. (72 - Tulalip Tribes)

The CTUIR supports the allocation of PSJ funding based on base (recurring annual) funding level. We do not believe any other factors should be used by the BIA in the allocation of the PSJ funding. (76 - CTUIR)

Navajo Nation supports setting aside a certain portion of this funding for tribal public safety and justice programs. It is no secret that tribal governments have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, and our public safety and justice staff are working harder than ever to address its impacts. Ensuring funding can be used to bolster our public safety and justice programs will significantly assist the nation in offsetting the impacts of the pandemic. (57-Navajo Nation)

We support DOI's proposal to funnel the bulk of the ARP funding through the Aid-to-Tribal Government process, and to dedicate an amount to public safety and justice services. This funding mechanism is well-known, and will provide each tribe significant discretion on using ARP funds to meet their unique circumstances. Funds should be distributed based on direct service needs and existing allocations of recurring annual funding levels for OJS tribally-operated programs. (43-Pueblo of Laguna)

[W]ith regard to the Public Safety & Justice funding, we support the use of existing methodologies. (32-USET SPF)

Regarding distribution of any Public Safety & Justice funding, we support BIA's idea to distribute these funds based on existing Base allocations of PSJ funding for tribes.  This represents the best way to get the funds to existing tribal law enforcement programs, which are already terribly underfunded by BIA, and who need additional resources to continue to respond to the pandemic. (36-White Earth)

PGST supports allocating more funds to Public Safety and Justice.  Our need for more funding of Public Safety, including our Natural Resource Enforcement officers and Justice is beyond our own Tribal funding sources. (38-Port Gamble S’Klallam)

B.  Oppose Because in PL 280 State

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, as a Public Law 280 tribe, would recommend distributing PSJ funding through existing tribal government funding lines such as Aid to Tribal Governments, so as not to penalize those tribes that have incurred increased law enforcement expenses, but do not operate an Office of Justice Services-funded, tribally operated, program. (19-Confederated Tribes of Siletz)

One of the most outstanding issues we want to address is the possible set aside for Public Safety and Justice (PSJ). We, the Karuk Tribe, are in a Public Law 280 State and have been historically excluded from Public Safety and Justice funding, although we still have needs for Public Safety and Justice funding due to lack of coordination and response from local law enforcement providers. Our communities suffer the consequences of inadequate public safety and justice services. We propose an alternative method of distributing funds for this purpose that would not exclude Tribes who do not receive PSJ in their existing funding agreements. (59 - Karuk Tribe)

The ARP authorizes $772.5 million for tribal government services, public safety and justice, social services, child welfare assistance, and other related expenses. However, we just heard the proposed set aside of PSJ-law enforcement funding would only be distributed to those programs currently receiving annual/re-occurring PSJ-law enforcement funding. The Fort Independence Tribe, like many California Tribes will not share in the ARP allocation of the " .. . $772.5 [million] for tribal governments services, public safety and justice (PSJ), social services, .... " unless the tribe has a Self-Governance contract with the BIA. (63 - Fort Independence Indian Community)

We strongly oppose removing a portion of funding that would otherwise be distributed as “Aid to Tribal Government” funding in order to fund Public Safety and Justice. We believe this proposal would simply take money away from tribes in Alaska and other PL-280 states in order to fund direct BIA services on reservations. Our tribes are also underserved in regard to public safety and courts. (60 - Bristol Bay Native Assn)

Growth of tribal justice systems suffered in PL 280 States such as California. We did not choose to be a PL 280 Tribe but we are penalized for a poorly designed fix that does not meet our Tribe's needs.

  • We have heard the BIA is proposing that the $772.5 million be distributed "based on the existing allocation of base (reoccurring annual) funding level for OJS-funded, tribally operated, programs" because the BIA has determined that the Fort Independence Tribe can always rely on state law enforcement for public safety. This is an erroneous statement. We believe that the BIA should equally distribute these funds so that all tribes can receive an equal portion to serve all federally recognized tribes. (63 - Fort Independence Indian Community)

Allocating public safety and justice funds only on existing allocations of base funding levels for OJS‐funded, tribally operated programs will completely exclude Alaska from this important resource and greatly diminish Alaska Tribes’ ability to address public safety issues resulting from the pandemic. Therefore, a setaside for this purpose must consider the disproportionate impact it will have on Alaska Tribes and Tribal Organizations. (65 - Cook Island Inlet)

We strongly disagree with basing distribution of ARP PSJ funding on “the existing allocation of base funding for OJS-funded, tribally operated, programs.” PL-280 states, such as Alaska, do not receive base funding for OJS programs. Historically, Alaska tribes have been shutout from BIA public safety funding and forced to rely on the State of Alaska and a patchwork of grants, donations, and fundraising. This has resulted in multiple tribal communities with insufficient or non-existent law enforcement4, the highest rates of rape and domestic violence in the Nation, and a current Department of Justice law enforcement emergency declaration in rural Alaska. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already desperate law enforcement situation in Alaska’s tribal communities. It is imperative that our tribes receive their fair share of public safety funding. AVCP recommends including PSJ funding – based on the same equitable allocation methodology for the remainder of BIA’s ARP funds – for every tribe. These funds can be included under the Law Enforcement Special Initiatives line to facilitate providing these funds expeditiously to PL-280 tribes. (66 – AVCP)

We do not agree with the fact that Tribes in PL280 states and some other new Tribes are deemed ineligible for public safety and justice funding. However, it is unclear whether this issue can be resolved swiftly at the 11th hour. Tribes desperately need public safety and justice funding and given the exponential need that has been magnified with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot have funding distribution delayed due to internal policy requirements. We would, however, urge DOI to address this long standing issue that essentially locks Tribes out of the distribution process without any recourse. If states are refusing or failing to provide public safety and justice services to Tribes in PL280 states, Tribes in accordance with the Tribal Law and Order Act, should be eligible to request re-assumption of Federal oversight and provided funding for public safety and justice by DOI. Tribes are currently being held hostage by states who are failing to carry out their jurisdictional responsibilities. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

Objects to BIA setting aside part of the $772.5 million in ARPA funds for PSJ and dispersing these funds based on current allocation methods, because P.L. 280 tribes would be severely disadvantaged, even though former Attorney General William General Barr designated rural Alaska as a law enforcement emergency, the first time in history a United States Attorney General has done so. (see comment for additional justification, pg6-7) (69 - Alaska Federation of Natives)

The proposed ARP implementation plan provides that $772.5 million dollars will be set aside for “public safety and justice (PSJ)” services. This allocation will be distributed based on “existing allocation of base (reoccurring annual) funding level for OJS-funded, tribally operated, programs.” Because OJS does not currently fund PSJ services for tribes in PL 280 states, our tribe will not qualify for the $772.5 million dollar set aside. We strongly object to this allocation formula since tribal courts and law enforcement services in California and other PL 280 states have been impacted by the pandemic and are in need of the critical funding.

  • California is one of the five mandatory Public Law (PL) 280 states. Under PL 280, the state and tribes concurrently exercised criminal and limited civil jurisdiction in Indian Country. One of the many consequences of PL 280 is the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has historically chosen not to fund tribal courts or law enforcement and instead prioritizes public safety and justice funding for tribes in non-PL 280 states. As result, tribes in California, with the exception of tribes with Self-Governance contracts, are not awarded 638 contracts for law enforcement or tribal court funding and therefore do not receive annual reoccurring base funding for these services.
  • Without sustaining and reoccurring federal funding, tribal courts and law enforcement services in California are provided and maintained through competitive tribal grants. Tribal enterprises, businesses and other economic sources that sustain tribal revenue were severely impacted financially by the pandemic which caused a ripple effect to the tribal services to our members and community. Providing funding to tribal courts and law enforcement is critical to maintain public safety to our community. Distribution of the PSJ funds should be fair and equitable to all tribes. We request that BIA work with the tribes in formulating an allocation plan that ensures tribes in PL 280 states are not again denied funding for PSJ services. (74 - Robinson Rancheria) (46-San Pasqual Band) (79 – Cahuilla Band of Indians)

Because OJS does not currently fund public safety and justice services for tribes in PL 280 states, the result of this allocation formula is that, despite being impacted by the pandemic, all California tribes will be ineligible for these funds. Due to the lack of federal funding, tribal courts and law enforcement services in California are supported using tribal general funds. Revenue from our tribal enterprises was severely impacted by the pandemic, which caused a shortage for tribal services to our members and community. Distribution of the public safety and justice funds should be fair and equitable to all tribes, including those of us located in P.L. 280 states. We do not have a jail system, but we contract with the County of San Diego for a resident sheriff and maintain our own Tribal Enforcement Dept. The tribe struggled to support and maintain these programs throughout the pandemic because we believe that law enforcement is critical to maintain public safety in our community. We request that BIA work with the tribes in formulating an allocation plan that ensures California tribes, as well as those in other PL 280 states, receive our fair share of funding for public safety and justice and that we are not, once again, left out of funding opportunities. (55-Barona Band of Mission Indians)

Because OJS does not currently fund PSJ services for tribes in PL 280 states, our tribe will not qualify for the $772.5 million dollar set aside. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians strongly objects to this allocation formula since tribal courts and law enforcement services in California and other PL 280 states have been impacted by the pandemic and are in need of the critical funding. Without sustaining and reoccurring federal funding, tribal courts and law enforcement services in California are provided and maintained through tribal general funds. Tribal enterprises, businesses and other economic sources that sustain tribal revenue were severely impacted financially by the pandemic which caused a ripple effect to the tribal services to our members and community. Providing funding to tribal courts and law enforcement is critical to maintain public safety to our community. Distribution of the PSJ funds should be fair and equitable to all tribes. We request that BIA work with the tribes in formulating an allocation plan that ensures tribes in PL 280 states are not again denied funding for PSJ services. (54-Tule River Tribe) (53- Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians)

My Tribe is urging the BIA to reject the proposed distribution restriction limiting the $772.5 million dollar allocation of American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) funding for public safety and justice (“PSJ”) programs to tribal governments that have an ongoing PL-93-638 contract (“638 contract”) with the BIA. This restriction unfairly impacts California Tribes who will not be able to share in the allocation for PSJ funding due to the effects of PL-280. […] It is imperative that the BIA reject this restriction and develop a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of the $772.5 million set aside for PSJ services so that California Tribes, and all tribes in PL 280 states, can receive PSJ funding.” (See comment for additional details.) (51- Chicken Ranch Rancheria)

I respectfully request that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“BIA”) reject the proposed distribution restriction limiting the $772.5 million dollar allocation of American Rescue Plan (“ARP”) funding for public safety and justice (“PSJ”) programs to tribal governments that have an ongoing PL-93-638 contract (“638 contract”) with the BIA. This restriction unfairly impacts California Tribes who will not be able to share in the allocation for PSJ funding due to the effects of PL-280. […] It is imperative that the BIA reject this restriction and develop a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of the $772.5 million set aside for PSJ services so that California Tribes, and all tribes in PL 280 states, can receive PSJ funding. (49-Coyote Valley Band - See comment for additional details) (47-Manchester-Point Arena Band)

To our knowledge, most, if not all Tribes in Alaska do not have a line in funding agreements for "base (recurring annual) funding level for OJS-funded, tribal operated, programs." If this is true, and your approach means that most or all of the Tribes and Tribal Organizations in Alaska will be ineligible to receive any of this funding, then we oppose this approach and believe it unfairly discriminates against Tribes in P.L. 280 States that have not had the advantage of establishing a recurring base OJS funded line in their funding agreements. If this means that some Tribes/Organizations in Alaska will be able to take advantage of this funding and others will not, we would still oppose this approach. Whatever approach is taken, Tribes should be equally entitled to receive a portion of this funding. Alaska Natives suffer from the worst rates of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and violence against women, in the entire country. Any formula for public safety and justice funding that excludes Alaska Tribes, would be a complete failure to apply these resources where they are needed the most. Ensure that the formula results in an equitable distribution of this funding to all Tribes, whether in the Lower 48, Alaska, P.L 280 State, or not. (48-Kawerak, Inc.)

It has come to our attention that on a recent tribal consultation, officials from the DOI announced that the portion of the ARP allocation to the BIA for public safety and justice services would be disbursed to tribes based on the existing allocation of base (reoccurring annual) funding levels for Office of Justice Services-funded, tribally operated, programs. As you may be aware, many tribes in PL-280 states, such as California, do not receive public safety and justice law enforcement funding, as the BIA has determined that tribes have the option to rely on state law enforcement for public safety. As tribes in California and other PL-280 states do not receive public safety and justice funding, there is no base or reoccurring annual funding level or 63 8 contracts to utilize for an allocation of a portion of the funds. [New Paragraph] Unfortunately, utilizing this method of funding essentially guarantees that California tribes, like Dry Creek, would not receive a portion of the $772,500,000 for public safety. We respectfully request that DOI reconsider this method of funding and develop a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of the set aside for public safety and justice services to ensure that California tribes-and all tribes in PL 280 states-receive a portion of the set aside for public safety and justice funding. (41-Dry Creek Rancheria Band)

The Rincon Band strongly objects to a PSJ Set Aside unless the distribution methodology directs an equitable portion to California Indian tribes operating PSJ programs. Since the Ninth Circuit decision in Los Coyotes Band v. Jewell, BIA clearly has no legal obligation to reallocate PSJ program funds to contract with tribes not already funded. In California, the BIA has included a PSJ line-item in the Pacific Region budget but refused to allocate funds for PSJ based on the legal fiction that tribal citizens and non-tribal citizens residing or doing business on Indian reservations in California, a Public Law (“PL”) 280 state, are adequately protected by the county sheriffs. We understand that BIA had funding to study and assess tribal courts systems in PL 280 jurisdictions but this funding did not flow through Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (“ISDEAA”) contracts with California tribes and, without existing ISDEAA contracts for PSJ services, we doubt there is any viable mechanic to distribute an equitable portion of the Set Aside to California tribes. This is manifestly unfair and discriminatory toward California tribes providing those services. For more than 14 years, the Rincon Band has been a founding member of the Intertribal Court of Southern California, and within the last two years has established additional courts to provide civil trial and appellate court services on the Rincon Reservation. To advance public safety, the Rincon Band has contracted with San Diego County Sheriff to provide dedicated law enforcement officers on the Rincon Reservation at an annual cost in excess of $400,000. The proposed Set Aside should be available to offset the Rincon Band’s PSJ costs. If the Rincon Band is eligible for an equitable share of the Set Aside, of course we support the proposal. Our understanding, however, is that that is not the case. We, therefore, strongly object to the Set Aside. (42-Rincon Band)

Alaska is a PL 280 state – as such there is concurrent jurisdiction between all three sovereigns depending upon the crime and the location of the crime.  However, it has been well documented that the State has been an unreliable public safety partner to Alaska Tribes and has been unable to establish and maintain a public safety presence in much of rural Alaska.  Attorney General Barr rightfully recognized our predicament as a Public Safety Crisis in June 2019.  The State has historically been unwilling to accept that Alaska Tribes have any continuing jurisdiction in public safety matters.  Despite the fact that in many rural communities, the Tribal Government is the only functioning government with an on the ground presence.  Alaska Tribes, like Tribes in other PL 280 jurisdictions, are forced to turn to competitive federal grants to fund crucial public safety positions.  Most Tribes in PL 280 states, including Alaska Tribes, do not receive ‘public safety and justice funds.’  This means that the BIA’s proposal to distribute these funds based on the existing allocation of base (recurring annual) funding level for OJS funded, tribally operated, programs will deny this important funding to Alaska Tribes.  We demand that the BIA develop a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of the $772.5 million set aside for PSJ services so that Alaska Tribes and all tribes in PL 280 states receive PSJ funding.  The BIA’s assumption that Alaska Tribes can rely upon the State of Alaska for public safety and justice services is demonstrably false – and the BIA can no longer operate as if it is true.  PSJ funding should be as flexible as possible and also distributed to entities with 638 contracts. (28-Tangirmaq Native Village)

Public Safety and Justice are critical programs, especially during a pandemic.  The Yurok Tribe supports the idea of putting funding towards this program.  However, one obstacle must be considered before doing so.  The BIA’s disastrous policy of not providing law enforcement and tribal courts funding to tribes in Public Law 280 states such as California must be ended.  This lack of funding only hampers our ability to respond to emergencies.  Nothing prevents BIA from ending this discriminatory policy.  For the short term in allocating this funding, an equivalent calculation should be creating for tribes in Public Law 280 states, so they are not once again left behind. (30-Yurok Tribe)

The tribes located in Public Law 280 states are not eligible for recurring annual funding to operate public safety and justice programs.  Minnesota is a Public Law 280 state.  The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe has a tribal court that exercises a broad scope of jurisdiction over civil matters, such as children in need of protection or services.  The tribal court is partially funded by the tribal government but must compete with other tribes for limited federal grants.  The present funding structure results in staffing instability and limited ability to make long-range plans for infrastructure and programming.  The tribes located in Public Law 280 states need to be included in the BIA' s recurring annual funding if/when they decide to exercise their sovereign authority in the area of criminal jurisdiction.  At present, tribal courts located in Public Law 280 states may apply for one-time funding grants. The grants are…relatively small (compared to the need).  The grants also have limitations and restrictions that limit their effectiveness. (33-Leech Lake Band; see comments for more background)

BIA should not set aside funds for Public Safety and Justice (PS&J) programs.  While it is true that PS&J programs will not otherwise receive an ARPA distribution, a set aside for this purpose would disadvantage tribes by locking funds into PS&J uses, reducing the overall flexibility of relief funds.  In addition, not all tribes receive funding in PS&J line items, so a sub-allocation would create an unfair split between those that do and those that do not.  An equitable distribution to evenly federally recognized tribal government cannot be achieved when some funds are carved out for line items that do not serve all tribes.  Finally, all ARPA funds should be provided through existing contracts/compacts and funding agreements and not through any grant mechanism. (37-Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

It has come to our attention that on a recent tribal consultation, officials from the DOI announced that the portion of the ARP allocation to the BIA for public safety and justice services would be disbursed to tribes based on the existing allocation of base (reoccurring annual) funding levels for Office of Justice Services­funded, tribally operated, programs.  As you may be aware, many tribes in PL-280 states, such as California, do not receive public safety and justice law enforcement funding, as the BIA has determined that tribes have the option to rely on state law enforcement for public safety.  As tribes in California and other PL-280 states do not receive public safety and justice funding, there is no base or reoccurring annual funding level or 638 contracts to utilize as for allocation of a portion of the funds.  Unfortunately, utilizing this method of funding essentially guarantees that California tribes, like Tachi, would not receive a portion of the $772,500,000 for public safety.  We respectfully request that DOI reconsider this method of funding and develop a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of the set aside for public safety and justice services to ensure that California tribes-and all tribes in PL 280 states-receive a portion of the set aside for public safety and justice funding. (39-Santa Rosa Rancheria)

This distribution method puts PL 280 tribes at a disadvantage because recurring funding received is minimal.  We receive less than 3% of the funding needed to operate our police department from the BIA.  We have 20 officers, but our BIA funds only pay for 1.  Other factors that should be considered are the size of programs.  Possible factors include total law enforcement budget, number of officers, crime rates, and need.  We submit our criminal statistics monthly, so the OJS should have that information already.  Another option would be to treat PSJ as a TPA so we can easily reallocate money there.  Another area we have concerns about is tribal court funding.  Will OJS be providing additional funds to tribal courts? (25-Oneida Nation)

The Bureau is proposing that the $772.5 million be distributed “based on the existing allocation of base (reoccurring annual) funding level for OJS-funded, tribally operated, programs.” BIA’s Public Safety and Justice (PSJ) program funds tribal law enforcement and tribal courts. However, most tribes in P.L. 280 states, including Alaska Native tribes, do not receive these funds. More specifically this means that Alaska will not share in the PSJ set aside of ARPA funds unless the tribe has a Self-Governance contract or compact with BIA.

  • BIA does not execute 638 contracts and compacts for PSJ funding to tribes in P.L. 280 states (except for Self-Governance tribes). Since tribes in P.L. 280 states do not receive PSJ funding there is no “base (reoccurring annual) funding level” or 638 contracts or compacts in which to allocate a public safety and justice set aside of $772.5 million in ARPA funds to Alaska Tribes.
  • If this is true, the DOI’s approach means that most or all of the Tribes and Tribal Organizations in Alaska, will be ineligible to receive any of this funding, then we oppose this approach and believe it unfairly discriminates against Tribes in P.L. 280 States that have not had the advantage of establishing a recurring base OJS funded line in their funding agreements. To paint a picture both Alaska and California are both P.L.280 states, and these two state alone are home to 338 of the 575 federally recognized tribes of this country- that means more than half of the tribes in this country will be excluded from these funds.
  • TCC has assisted tribes in the Region to develop tribal courts since the early 1980s and is viewed in the state as a model for tribal court development. TCC supports this development through training, technical assistance and legal support when tribal courts are challenged by the State of Alaska. Through the many state and federal court decisions that have come from challenges to tribal court activity, Alaska tribes are confirmed to have clear civil jurisdiction particularly in the area of domestic relations even in the absence of Indian country. These cases proved that Alaska tribes have jurisdiction over tribal members and protecting their health and safety even without the land base of a reservation. Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr stated during his June 2019 visit to Alaska that it was harder for him to imagine a more vulnerable population than the Native women and children he saw in rural Alaska. He immediately issued an Emergency Declaration for Rural Public Safety and reallocated existing Justice Department funds to mitigate the crisis. The Biden-Harris Administration should continue to prioritize the public safety crisis of Alaska Natives with an all-of-government approach. (See comment for additional statistics on public safety problems in Alaska’s tribal communities).

As such, TCC only supports BIA’s proposed PSJ set aside of ARPA funds if the Bureau develops a fair and equitable funding formula for the distribution of these funds for PSJ services so that Alaska Native tribes and all tribes in P.L. 280 states receive PSJ funding. Additionally TCC requests the DOI consider allowing Tribes in P.L. 280 state to receive annual base funding for PSJ, tribal government within P.L. 280 states retain their jurisdiction over their tribal members and are truly in need of funding resources to help keep tribal communities safe. (83-Tanana Chiefs Conference)

C.  Oppose For Other Reasons

As we mentioned at the March 25th Consultation, the Seneca Nation's constitutionally-created law enforcement agency, the Seneca Marshals, is funded completely through Seneca Nation general funds and is not a PSJ/OJS-funded program. The Seneca Nation does receive a modest BIA Tribal Court grant that is funded under our 638 community service contract and not the PSJ program. If the BIA follows through with its funding proposal under Question #3, the Seneca Nation likely would receive no funding and would basically be penalized for funding its law enforcement through Seneca Nation general funds.

  • The Seneca Nation proposed that the full $772.5 million be provided to Native Nations through the "tribal government funding line." Upon hearing the Seneca Nation's comments, Mr. Newland suggested that the Seneca Nation propose a method of distribution that meets the public safety and justice demands of OJS-funded Native Nations as well as Nations like Seneca that fund their public safely and justice programs through general funds than through OJS funding.
  • The Seneca Nation proposes that if the BIA goes forward with setting aside some of the $772.5 million for PSJ programs, then a portion of the "set aside" should be reserved for Native Nations that do not have an existing allocation of funding for "OJS-funded, tribally operated, programs." This portion of the set aside should then be distributed to such Native Nations (those who are not OJS-funded) through the tribal government funding line. (10-Seneca Nation)

The Choctaw Nation strongly supports a set aside for PSJ funding but would oppose as grossly unfair any distribution based on existing allocations of OJS funding because OJS funding completely bypasses tribes like the Choctaw Nation which have huge, non­PL 280 Reservation land areas for which they are responsible for public safety without any OJS funding.  The BIA's responsibility to provide recurring PSJ funding to the Choctaw Nation is not at all represented in the current PSJ base funding level.  Funding levels have not been raised commensurate with the additional trust responsibility for funding the Choctaw Nation Reservation as necessitated by the U.S. Supreme Court's 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.  The Choctaw Nation would recommend that any such set aside funds be distributed as tribal government services funding, so that a tribe may reprogram any portion of its allocation to supplement PSJ.  The BIA could simply distribute all the funds as discussed in Question 2 above and make clear that tribes may program to any activities allowed by the Act.  Alternatively, the BIA should distribute any PSJ allocation based on the newly updated enrollment data, not upon the existing recurring base for PSJ.  Should the BIA consider allocating some shares in relation to the PSJ base funding levels, the historically inaccurate base funding level for Choctaw Nation must be considered and treated in parity with other tribes under the funding formulas BIA uses in its Tribal Law and Order Act annual reports. (23-Choctaw Nation)

 

SGAC supports a set aside for PSJ funding.  However, the SGAC has significant concerns about distributing these funds based on the existing allocation of OJS funding.  The COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate basic safety and human rights issues that already disproportionately hurt Tribal communities due to vicious cycles of marginalization, loss of sovereignty, and Federal neglect.  In addition, as state and Federal prisons have become infection hotspots, American Indian and Alaska Native people again bear a disproportionate burden of the impact due to their 38 percent higher-than-average incarceration rate.  Many Tribal Nations do not receive OJS funding or receive very minimal amounts of funds compared to the Tribal governments’ actual operating budget for public safety and justice programs. (31-Self-Governance Advisory Committee)

MCN opposes distribution of the available funding through the public safety line item. The reason funding cannot easily be reprogrammed is because of historical decisions of the BIA, which did not consider tribal input. Therefore, modem distributions of funding to recognize the true need, especially for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. On average, MCN finances law enforcement services on the reservations 7-8 times greater than the amount of funding the BIA provides. Historical funding bases also do not recognize recent affirmations of the Nation's reservation, nor do current funding levels meet the needs on the reservation. Therefore, we are opposed to any distribution which is based on historical funding levels. If, instead, the BIA were to use recent, available population or available crime data to distribute a subset of funding, the MCN would consider that a more appropriate measure for a formula distribution. (80 – Muscogee Creek Nation)

D.  PSJ Funding Needs

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is approximately 200,000 acres, which is occupied by a little over 1,600 enrolled members. With a low population spread over a remote and large land base, our Tribe has unique needs.

  • Part of those needs is law enforcement and adequate detention facilities. With condemnation threatening our old justice facility around the turn of last century, BIA agreed to house inmates here in Lower Brule. Part of this agreement involved using Tribal funds to build this new facility, which cost the Tribe around $8.SM. Our Justice Center currently houses the BIA Law Enforcement Command Center and detention spaces serving both the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Tribes. The Tribe is currently in the middle of a major project of its Justice Center. The COVID-19 pandemic largely ground tribal construction to a halt, negatively impacted tribal finances and placed a chill on lenders. During this time our tribal law enforcement and inmate population along with their families struggle with the pandemic. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe needs adequate funding and maximum flexibility to help meet the unique challenges it faces. (07-Lower Brule)

a.  Yes, non-tribal offenders lessen Pueblo public safety resources (e.g., arrest, processing).

  • b.  Courts: The Pueblo lands lie at a major travel intersection and have two major highways that run through the Pueblo, East to West, and North to South.  Over 300 miles of roads exist within the boundary of the Pueblo.  As a result, 60,000 people travel through tribal lands every day with a large majority being from the other 20 tribes within the State of New Mexico.  This heavy foot and automobile traffic impact the Pueblo public safety systems and courts.  On average the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) responds to around 5000 dispatch calls annually.  Due to this influx from other tribes in the surrounding area on to the Pueblo, the court usually has an average of 70% of all court cases being with non-Santa Ana tribal members.
  • c.  Law Enforcement: The Law Enforcement program for the Pueblo is insufficient given the land mass, number of residents, travelers, and patrons.  Additional personnel and associated costs for the program are essential to the safety and security of the respective interests of the Pueblo. Upper-level Command Steff positions must also be created and funded to ensure proper oversight and continual progress of the Law Enforcement program.  The current staffing levels and assignments are insufficient and problematic to the overall mission of the Santa Ana Police Department.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Santa Ana Police Department as well.  Due to the CO VID-19, the Santa Ana Police Department has maintained a checkpoint at one of the access points to the village for over one year.  The checkpoint was established to mitigate the spread of CO VID- 19 within the Pueblo.
  • Workspace for the Santa Ana Police Department and Tribal Court System is a significant problem as well.  The Pueblo is currently unable to fund the completion of a Public Safety/ Judicial Complex.  Funding and finalization of the project is uncertain with no anticipated end date.  Due to budget constraints related to the CO VID - 19, the Santa Ana Police Department did not receive any funding for the purchase of new emergency response vehicles during the current fiscal year.  An aging fleet is costly to maintain and raises concerns regarding the reliability of the vehicles. (21-Pueblo of Santa Ana; see comments for more background)

 

The path to public safety must be safely paved.  We recommend that the BIA use a portion of the $772.5 million public safety and justice sub-category allocation to:

  • Address its substantial backlogged road and bridge projects by taking a tribal nation's mile inventory, size, remoteness and seasonal weather conditions into consideration.
  • Authorize new tribal road maintenance and construction projects.
  • Authorize purchases of essential road equipment (snowplows, graders, etc.) for short and long term road maintenance.

Our officers are overworked and under tremendous stress.  ARPA funds must be used to rectify this situation.  We recommend the BIA allocate funds directly to tribal governments for law enforcement workforce development, emergency vehicle maintenance and replacements, administrative and public safety equipment, systems upgrades, and training.  Our Tribal Court and justice services…have been strained during the pandemic by a rise in drug-related activities and crimes on our lands.  We also recommend that the BIA broadly authorize expenditures under the public safety and justice sub-category of ARPA funding.  Because Congress did not distinguish public safety and justice services into separate line items, the BIA should allocate these funds together directly to tribal governments so that we can target expenditures appropriately to meet local needs. (24-Oglala Sioux Tribe; see comments for more background)

The path to public safety must be safely paved. 
  • Roads Maintenance.  On our Reservation and Pueblo lands, roads maintenance is a persistent need.  Unmet repair and construction needs create unsafe road conditions…can create challenges in emergency situations, for individuals and families, for the delivery of goods and services, and for accessing areas that are culturally and spiritually significant.  This is all the more true during a pandemic.  We recommend that the BIA use a portion of the $772.5 million public safety and justice sub-category allocation to:
    • Address its substantial backlogged road and bridge projects by taking a tribal nation's mile inventory, size, and geographic location into consideration.
    • Authorize new tribal road maintenance and construction projects.
    • Authorize purchases of essential road equipment for sustainable road maintenance. Because this is an area of high unmet need, we suggest that the BIA allocate roads funding as a separate pot of funding from any law enforcement and justice services.
  • Law Enforcement Personnel and Resources.  There are many challenges that pre-date the pandemic in these areas that have become exacerbated over the past year.  Our officers are overworked and under tremendous stress in their dedication to safeguarding our Pueblo.  ARPA funds must be used to rectify this situation.  We recommend the BIA allocate funds directly to tribal governments…funds should be allocated, to the greatest extent possible, on a needs-based methodology or, where that is not feasible, by taking into consideration geographic and population size.
  • Tribal Court and Justice Services.  Our Tribal Court and justice services…have been strained during the pandemic by a rise in drug-related activities and crimes on our lands and in the surrounding communities.  [They] do not have the resources…to timely process cases and complete necessary coordinating work with tribal partners on public safety in Pueblo Country.  Additional resources are needed to close the funding gap….  We recommend that the BIA broadly authorize expenditures under the public safety and justice sub-category of ARPA funding…the BIA should allocate these funds…directly to tribal governments so that we can target expenditures appropriately to meet local needs. (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background)

I submit these comments to ensure our tribal justice system needs are recognized, and to advocate they be funded by the American Rescue Plan (ARP)…. The Blue Lake Rancheria has just completed construction (March, 2021), funded by its own treasury, of a Tribal Justice Center (TJC), which houses the Tribal Court, Tribal Police, and related functions and agencies. With this new facility, for the first time the Tribe will have a dedicated space for its Court. Due to the

Covid-19 pandemic and the tribal government's many priorities including continuity of operations, closing down of its primary economic enterprises for ~six months to slow the transmission, and funding the many Covid-19 response and recovery activities, the Blue Lake Rancheria seeks assistance with the following resources to equip the facilities.

  • Contract Subject Matter Expert (SME) to update and finalize Tribal Court Clerk Manual
  • Contract SME to update and finalize the Judge's Bench Book
  • Contract SME to update, amend, tribal ordinances and codify them
  • Procure security infrastructure for the Tribal Courtroom and related facilities, including two metal detectors also equipped with temperature detection due to COVID-19, security cameras and related infrastructure (e.g., wiring, dedicated server for video file storage)
  • Contract SME to develop Court emergency policies and procedures and train employees on their use
  • Contract SME to assist with development of Court forms as interactive PDF forms
  • Upgrade Court audio/visual system
  • Obtain an appropriate court case management system software
  • Obtain equipment for Court operations, including but not limited to copy machine, scanner, two printers (clerk+ judge), headphones for clerks, fireproof safe, shredder, fireproof file cabinets, computers, official court stamps.
  • Training - all Court staff
  • Procure furnishings, including but not limited to:
    • Jury Room: modular conference table and chairs
    • Courtroom: Judge dais, witness chair, modular table and chair system for attorneys, chairs for attendees
    • Judge's Office: desk, chair, modular conference table/chairs for attorneys and other meetings
  • Procurement of systems and other resources to ensure all Court operations are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other accessibility services and best practices (e.g., ADA Coordinator service, system to manage requests for accommodation, Assistive Listening System (ALS) and Portable Assistive Listening Systems (ALS), interpreter services, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), among others)
  • Procure Information Technology, including but not limited to:
    • Purchase dedicated broadband fiber network and connectivity equipment
    • Secure Court networks, digital filing and storage software system(s), licenses, and secure/dedicated servers
    • Digital Court calendar system with Court stakeholder communications functionality
    • Dedicated phone line for jurors, dedicated Court phone line for questions
    • Cell phone for clerk's office equipped to receive Court email, and able to Virtual Private Network (VPN) into the Court's secure network
    • Monitors for more accessible public viewing in Courtroom for sharing of documents
  • Supplies: Typical Court operations office supplies (e.g., copy paper, pens, highlighters, staplers, staple removers, hole punch, self-stick business envelopes, carbonless receipt books w/court information, label maker, paper clips, desktop/wall calendars, general pre-inked stamps (e.g., faxed, filed, closed, posted, etc.), clipboards, organizational supplies, etc.

To ensure every tribe with a tribal justice system receives meaningful funding under this effort, we propose at least 20% of the funding (~$154 million) be distributed equally among existing tribal court systems. The remaining 80% of the funding could be distributed equally among the 574 federally recognized tribes to fund a broader set of tribal justice system and public safety initiatives. (06-Blue Lake Rancheria)

I am writing in support of funding Tribal Government Services for the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

  • The Chippewa Cree Tribal Court is currently housed in an older abandoned college annex building built in the early 1970’s. The building does not provide adequate space or safety for a Tribal Court House employees. Our water pipes freeze each winter, the lights in offices do not work, the building has two furnaces to heat and cool the building, however one furnace does not work so part of the building is freezing cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. In 2009 & 2010 the building flooded and the foundation is cracked. I can send pictures of the building showing the siding and rain gutters falling off along with cracked sidewalks and no fire exits for some of the offices. Itis not logical to renovate such as old building located near springs which causes the building to flood. I could go on and on about the need for a new court house.
  • The Tribal Court upholds all laws and ordinances for civil, criminal and juvenile matters approved by the Chippewa Cree Tribal Council. Tribal courts in the United States are referred to as the third branch of the third sovereign, placing them, by stature, at the bottom of the hierarchy of judicial systems within our federal government. Very little, if any funds for construction are available to tribes to build or maintain tribal department buildings.
  • The Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is a self-governance tribe however, our economic development does not provide funds to the tribe like most tribes, thus our tribe does not have the funding for construction of buildings.

I am an experienced grant writer, however I have no experience as an construction manager or engineer. Our tribe is in desperate need for both positions with the hope of designing new buildings for the Tribal Court, Social Services, TANF, TERO, Voc Rehab and Tribal Office. These departments are forced to operate in older buildings abandoned by the Rocky Boy Health Center and Stone Child College. I can send pictures of these building as well. (12-Chippewa Cree Tribal Court)

E.  Other Comments

Setting aside some of the funds for PSJ programs. Our tribe is a member of the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), a consortium of all fifty six federally recognized tribes from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. Like many tribes in our region, we have a compact agreement with AVCP to administer our public safety and tribal justice programs. A portion of the ARP public safety funding should, however, go directly to tribes to support existing public safety personnel in our communities and assist in enforcing public safety mandates related to COVID-19. (70 - Yupiit of Andreafski)

Public safety and justice needs. In allocating funds to Indian Tribes, the BIA should consider each Tribe’s need for assistance with roads maintenance, law enforcement facilities, personnel, and resources, detention and corrections facilities, personnel, and services, and Tribal Court and justice services. The BIA should provide sufficient funding to repair all substandard roads, bridges, and culverts on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. (71 - Cheyenne River Sioux)

Public safety and justice needs. In allocating funds to Indian Tribes, the BIA should consider each Tribe's need for assistance with roads maintenance, law enforcement facilities, personnel and resources, detention and corrections facilities, personnel, and services, and Tribal Court and justice services. The BIA should provide sufficient funding for public safety and Justice construction on the Lake Traverse Reservation, including sufficient funding to complete the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Adult Detention Center and funding for a Police Station and Tribal Courthouse. (73 - Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate)

Pinoleville Pomo Nation is a Self Gov. Tribe located in Ukiah CA The Tribe doesn’t have funding for Tribal Police and is need of that funding. We have a Tribal court but no funding for law enforcement. Each tribe should have a fair share of enforcement. This is a Safety problem with Covid 19. (58-Pinoleville)

In short, California schools are in decline and COVID schedule changes have made this decline worse for children from Native families to get safe access to schools. We recommend a small portion of funding for BIE or PSJ funds be set aside for " school transportation/safety improvement programs". Additional factors that should be considered for PSJ programs are those Tribes that are now assessing a Tribal Court or Tribal Public Safety Officer Program. (44-Tuolumne Band)

Next, the Community also supports the authorization to use of those funds for the development of a Justice Center, which would house the police department, the court system and a new correctional facility. Given the Community's remote and isolated location, we have our own police force, jail facility and court system. That said, for decades, the justice system has been woefully underfunded and important infrastructure needs have gone un-met for far too long. For example, in 2009, the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Justice Services condemned our jail facility given its state of severe disrepair. As such, we are unable to adequately protect Community members or to provide important, culturally appropriate rehabilitation services to our members who commit relatively minor offenses due to addiction problems. Because we cannot house them in our correctional facility for more than twelve hours, any member whose offense requires some jail time must serve their time in state facilities, which leads to increased separation from the Community and negatively impacts their ability to truly heal themselves. (40-Metlakatla Indian Community)

Allocate some funding for Public Safety and Justice also based on newly collected enrollment data and existing allocation of reoccurring annual funding level for OJS ­funded, tribally operated programs.  The Chippewa Cree experienced a higher level of distribution of services and products expenses not only because of our location in a rural area but also Shelter in Place orders for the reservation. (27-Chippewa Cree Tribe)

4. Housing Improvement $100M Providing 30% to All Tribes and Remaining Pro Rata

A.  Support

Regarding the proposed two-step formula for distributing HIP funds, with 30% being used to provide a minimum amount to each tribe, and the remaining amount distributed pro-rata based on enrollment, we support this proposal as an equitable means to assist all tribes. (03-Red Lake Band)

I understand the housing improvement program and its criteria to assist the elderly, any amount that can be added to the $50,000 will once again be greatly appreciated as well. (05-Native Village of Kongiganak)

The Community supports the Housing Improvement funding proposal for all Tribes to receive a minimum level of funding, as noted within the consultation, which is 30% of the $ 100 million and a second step with the remaining $ 65. 5 million funds for distribution on a pro rata based on enrollment data. (11-Ak-Chin Indian Community)

We support the BIA’s suggestion to allocate the funds based on a two-step method to ensure all tribes have a minimum level of funding which would expend roughly 30% of the $1 00 million. We also support the second step to distribute the remaining funding on a pro-rata basis based on enrollment data. (72 - Tulalip Tribes)

We support DOI’s decision to provide every Tribe $60,000 in funding and to distribute the remaining $65.5 million on a pro rata basis using enrollment data as the distribution factor. Unfortunately, unmet needs/unfulfilled obligations would have been another factor to apply to the formula distribution methodology but the BIA placed a moratorium on the collection of needs based data for the last four years. We urge the Department to dispense with the moratorium and work with Tribes to establish metrics to collect needs based data. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

The Walker River Paiute Tribe supports the allocation methodology as proposed by the Department of Interior provided the enrollment data used for the second step of the distribution is self-certified enrollment data provided by tribes. (68 - Walker River Paiute)

AFN supports the Bureau’s plan to allocate $100 million of the $900 million in ARPA funds for housing, provided the data methodology for the pro-rate allocation is based on the most recent Tribal Annual Performance Report (TAPR). This is a historic amount of federal aid at one time. Our greatest hope is that it gets to where it is needed most, lifting American Indians and Alaska Natives out of poverty, while addressing critical needs to allow a rebound in a post-COVID economy which is lasting. You know as well as we do that the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have been neglected and underfunded for decades. It is critically important that these resources be invested among tribal governments with equity in mind. The poorest among tribes do not have the capacity to compete against the wealthier tribes, yet President Biden has said this is intended to cut poverty in half. It is your challenge to see that the resources get to where the poverty is. We want to help. Alaska Natives are not looking for handouts. Our tribes are looking for their due. In the alternative, if none of our recommendations are acceptable, please consider a $10 million dollar base per tribe and further equitable sharing using the compact authority the Department has to expedite the transfer of funds.1 (69 - Alaska Federation of Natives)

The Navajo Nation supports the BIA’s proposal to utilize 30 percent of the housing improvement funding to provide baseline funding for all tribal governments and dividing the remaining portion of the funding based on population. This will ensure that no tribal government is left behind while simultaneously ensuring funds are used to support the varying needs of each tribal government in the most cost-effective manner. More specifically, the Navajo Nation encourages the BIA to utilize the U.S. Department of Housing census data to distribute the remaining funding rather than relying on certified tribal enrollment data. While we recognize that there has been some concern about these numbers from other tribes when the CARES funds were distributed, this seems like the appropriate number to apply particularly when dealing with funds meant for housing. This will also ensure that tribal governments receive funding that accounts for members of other federally recognized tribes receiving services and residing on the Navajo Nation reservation. […] Additionally, the Nation encourages the BIA to consider how land base may be incorporated into the formula, as tribal members living on remote tribal lands require more support from tribal governments, and providing services can be more costly due to the extra transportation costs involved. (57-Navajo Nation)

We support the Housing Improvement Program funding distribution of $60,000 minimum and the balance based on enrollment. (43-Pueblo of Laguna)

The Choctaw Nation supports using enrollment data to distribute Housing Improvement funds on a pro-rata basis.  Providing a minimum level of funding as described for Housing Improvement is also reasonable. (23-Choctaw Nation; see comments for more background)

Regarding the proposed two-step formula for distributing HIP funds, with 30% being used to provide a minimum amount to each tribe, and the remaining amount distributed pro-rata based on enrollment, we support this proposal as an equitable means to assist all tribes. (36-White Earth)

B.  Oppose

The CTUIR does not believe that the two step methodology that you propose would be an equitable distribution of the housing improvement funding. The CTUIR recommends that all housing improvement funding be allocated on a pro-rata basis based on the tribally certified enrollment data. (76 – CTUIR)

C.  Other Comments

Allocation of housing improvement funding. Our tribe also has a compact agreement with AVCP to administer our housing improvement program. However, since this funding is outside of the normal funding that they receive on our behalf, our tribe should have the option of whether or not we want to receive the funding directly instead of through the consortium. (70 - Yupiit of Andreafski)

One of the most pressing needs on the Sauk-Suiattle Reservation is housing. The Tribe is currently enduring a housing crisis that it has never before experienced with 16.7 percent of Sauk-Suiattle tribal members that are either currently homeless or in imminent threat of homelessness. Because of the Tribe's small size and service population, annual formula-based funds that the Tribe receives from the Native American Housing Block grant have not kept up with the need, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

  • Given the small size of the Tribe, the Tribe is seeking various forms of federal assistance to construct 15 homes on the Sauk-Suiattle Reservation and on lands that the Tribe owns. Because we have multigenerational family, these homes would significantly reduce the backlog of tribal members on the waiting list for homes. Building these 15 homes would reduce the Tribe's homelessness rate exponentially, and would also get many of the Tribe's homeless and at-risk homeless population off the streets and into stable housing where they can shelter in place and stop the spread of COVID-19 which benefits the entire community, both in the short term during the pandemic and in the longer term.
  • For these reasons, the Tribe respectively requests that the Department rates tribal homelessness as a factor in allocating the 70 percent of the Housing Improvement Program (HIPP) funds that the Department has proposed to distribute on a pro-rata basis based on tribal enrollment numbers. Since the HIPP has traditionally been utilized for the neediest of tribal members, we believe that using homelessness as a factor is not only consistent with the HIP, but is also consistent with the intent of the Rescue Plan Act in that homeless individuals are among the most at-risk for COVID-19. (14-Sauk-Suiattle)

Regarding BIA's ARPA Housing set aside funding. Specifically, the tribe would like to request and receive the authority to determine which local low-income families who apply for this program actually receive the funds for home improvement.

  • The rationale for our request is simple, the tribe knows its people and their needs more than any outside agency. The tribe is capable of creating and requiring applicable eligibility criteria based on federal program regulations, and if we are given the local program award authority, this will simplify the application and award process, drawing more applications from families who actually need the funding…. Lack of adequate local housing has created many severely overcrowded homes in our community and this has posed, and currently poses, a great health risk, and many other problems, for many local residents.
  • The Asa'carsarmiut Tribe would like to inform you that, in regard to the former CARES Act funding and the current ARPA funding, addressing the lack of adequate local housing has been and is one of our very high priorities. (15-Asa’carsarmiut)

Navajo Nation encourages the BIA to utilize the U.S. Department of Housing census data to distribute the remaining funding rather than relying on certified tribal enrollment data. While we recognize that there has been some concern about these numbers from other tribes when the CARES funds were distributed, this seems like the appropriate number to apply particularly when dealing with funds meant for housing. This will also ensure that tribal governments receive funding that accounts for members of other federally recognized tribes receiving services and residing on the Navajo Nation reservation. (57-Navajo Nation)

[H]ousing needs on the Pueblo need to include the entire building envelope (roof, doors, windows) and upgrades to HVAC, plumbing, propane, and electrical systems.  Providing funds for a "band aid" approach is not an effective or efficient use of federal funding. (21-Pueblo of Santa Ana)

Our Reservation has an acute housing crisis.  Our current unmet need is for over 4,000 new housing units and 1,000 housing repairs—and these numbers are changing every month as pandemic stressors increase wear-and-tear on homes and put pressure on our housing market.  We recommend that the $100 million sub-allocation for tribal housing improvement be distributed as expeditiously as possible…These funds should be provided through existing and new BIA Housing Improvement Program (HIP) grants and direct allocations to tribal governments with maximum flexibility.  [W]e recommend the BIA allocate a portion of the HIP as automatic supplemental grant amounts for existing grantees (such that no action or additional reporting is required on the part of the tribal nation), and that a separate amount be made available through a new non-competitive grant application.  The BIA should inform tribal leaders of the method that it will use to determine how it will equitably distribute funds to each tribal nation—both existing grantees and new grantees—under the relief bill. (24-Oglala Sioux Tribe; see comments for more background)

If the $100 million for tribal housing improvement is distributed to tribes through the Housing Improvement Program (HIP), then Interior should distribute on a non-competitive basis.  In addition, tribes should be given maximum flexibility to address unique housing needs of our members.  All tribes are different and a one-size-fits-all approach for HIP funding will not work for Indian Country. The Nation urges Interior to issue waivers of HIP regulations (25 CFR Part 256), such as onerous eligibility or application guidelines, to the extent permissible by law to provide tribes with this needed flexibility.  Interior should also take this opportunity to evaluate HIP regulations to identify permanent changes or waivers to the regulations and funding process after the pandemic has concluded.  Tribal Nations would benefit from permanent, recurring, non-competitive funding rather than the current competitive, points-based process. (25-Oneida Nation)

The $100 million for housing improvement distribution methodology used to ensure all tribes have a minimum starting level with remaining funds distributed using enrollment data. (27-Chippewa Cree Tribe; see comments for more background)

USET SPF appreciates DOI’s focus on equity for [Housing Improvement] funds and supports the proposal to ensure every Tribal Nation receives a base amount.  We defer to our membership regarding the proposal to distribute the remaining funds based on enrollment data. (32-USET SPF)

Our program is separate from our Leech Lake Housing Authority (LLHA) under HUD, so we are unable to utilize their funding stream.  At this time, we have 130 applications on our waiting list and it will continue to grow as people are asked to stay home and isolate due to the pandemic and the continuing variants that are spreading.  On average, we are receiving 6-8 applications per week.  On average, our program receives eight (8) renovation/repair applications per week.  Homeownership units that are “past the renovation period,” that need a replacement average of approximately five (5) units per year.  (33-Leech Lake Band; see comments for more background)

Our Reservation has an acute housing crisis with an unmet need that changes every month as pandemic stressors increase wear-and-tear on houses and puts pressure on our housing market.  We recommend that the $100 million sub-allocation for tribal housing improvement be distributed as expeditiously as possible to provide safe homes in Pueblo and Indian Country.  These funds should be provided through existing and new BIA Housing Improvement Program (HIP) grants and through direct allocations to tribal governments. (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background)

During the consultation, it seemed as though Department intended to distribute and require funding to be utilized according to Housing Improvement Program (HIP) regulations. MCN asserts that this set aside should be distributed utilizing population data and that the utilization of funding should not be limited to those allowable uses under existing regulations. Should DOI intend to utilize existing HIP regulations, the BIA must review the existing regulations and exercise latitude to offer waivers from the regulation so that funding can be fully leveraged. Additionally, self-governance tribes should retain the right to reprogram funding to best suit their ongoing programs. Either way, this funding should not result in significant reporting requirements for any tribes. (80 – Muscogee Creek Nation)

 

5. Potable Water $20M Based on Need

Once again what amount of money that will be allocated for our tribe for the need we have, especially in the 20 mil potable water delivery, with absolutely no running water for the community members.  (05-Native Village of Kongiganak)

The ARP also includes $ 20 million for delivery of potable water and $ 100 million for housing

improvement. Within the Tribal Consultation it was noted that these funds would be transferred to the BIA Regions. Within each Region, there would be an application process for Tribes to complete based on need and description of projects, budgets etc. The Community would encourage Indian Affairs to ensure that all Tribes are timely notified of this funding opportunity by the Regions. Our Region, the Western Region needs to ensure that all Tribes receive the information as soon as it becomes available and allow adequate time to complete funding requests. (11-Ak-Chin Indian Community)

In regard to Potable Water set-aside funding, the tribe has a very, very strong need [which was exacerbated by COVID-19] to construct an undeveloped new-housing subdivision, on land that the tribe owns, so that we may address the lack of housing in our community.

  • We have informed the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium of our desire for water and sewer infrastructure funding to develop the subdivision; we have already contracted an engineering firm to design the roads and gravel pads at the subdivision and received those designs; we also contracted for and received a geotechnical investigation, and the site already received an environmental review.
  • In addition to these predevelopment efforts, an Alaskan state engineer from the Village Safe Water program has provided us with an estimate to develop water and sewer at the subdivision and this amount was quoted at $2.8 million dollars. (15-Asa’carsarmiut)

Calista also supports the Native Village of Tuluksak being fully funded with BIA ARP funds to replace its washeteria facility, its only source of drinking water, which was destroyed in a fire during the pandemic. In a recent Senate Indian Affairs hearing, Calista shareholder Valerie Nurr'Araaluk Davidson, Interim President of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, testified that “roughly 20 percent of rural Alaska Native homes still lack in-home piped water. Thirty-two of the 190 rural Alaska Native communities are still unserved, lacking access to in-home water and sewer.” We encourage the BIA to thoughtfully consider the critical unmet sanitation infrastructure needs of our small remote Tribes in Alaska in determining how tribal funds are distributed. (16-Calista Corp.)

Providing an additional $10,000,000 per Tribe to start with as a base will provide meaningful impact throughout Alaska and Indian Country. Indeed, base funding at this level will allow for development of the water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure investments contemplated by Congress. (See more on this $10 million request on Page 2 of this request)… Alaska rural villages have over 30 communities and 3,300 homes with no running water, the people that we represent are some of the poorest of the poor still today. (61 - ANVCA)

We support funding for water and waste water needs. However, the funding allocated to address Tribal water issues is nowhere near the level needed to assist all Tribes. Many Tribes have infrastructure issues that are a key component of a Tribe’s ability to provide clean water to their citizens and community members. (67 - Jamestown S’Klallam)

The Walker River Paiute Tribe recommends prioritizing allocation of the $20 million set aside for delivery of potable water to tribes that have completed needs assessments and plans developed to immediately address access to clean water issues. Other criteria to be considered in prioritizing allocation should include geographical isolation, the tribe’s dependency of federal funds and lack of housing inventory. (68 - Walker River Paiute)

AFN supports the Bureau’s plan to allocate $20 million in ARPA funds for potable water based on “need,” provided the Bureau works with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to determine the tribal “need” so the limited funds available can go directly to fund projects already vetted, but not funded, by IHS instead of creating a new program and collecting new applications from the same tribes. Funds should be available only to those tribes with no running water. (69 - Alaska Federation of Natives)

It is our understanding that this funding is for immediate potable water needs for tribes who lack access to water, and to serve needs such as bringing in water trucks to Indian reservations to provide drinking water to members where none currently exists. Accordingly, the Tulalip Tribes supports DOI allocating this funding based on these needs as identified by tribal governments. (72 - Tulalip Tribes)

Because of our isolated area in the desert, the tribe must be able to determine the best use for the funds. This could be used to build a newly updated public water system wells and address inadequate infrastructure highlighted with the Tribe’s Water Master Plan. (75 - Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)

Throughout the Navajo Reservation, families continue to face unmet water needs. For example, many Navajo families (estimated at 30-40%) do not have access to running water. For this reason, the BIA should work closely with the Navajo Nation to ensure families living in rural or remote parts of the reservation gain access to portable water tanks and services. This must be a top priority. Additionally, the BIA should consider permitting the funding to be used to clean and service septic tanks. As you are well aware, having access to clean water is critical to fighting the impacts of COVID. (57-Navajo Nation)

In regards to potable water and housing improvements the Tribe does feel other considerations should be given. The Tribe thinks considerations should be given to partnering with EPA to combine wither "Water Rights" funding with an expanded "Safe Drinking Water" program. Many times the individual mandates of the EPA "Clean Water Act 106 funds" is limited to water testing, without being able to fund improved, small scale water treatment or water storage projects. These barriers to actually improving water quality, and water availability through the same grant have hindered Indian Country for decades.

  • More funding set-asides are needed for potable drinking water, but source and purity are not the only factors that should be considered, actual new well development and storage, treatment and distribution should be as well. The Tribe recommends set-asides through the IRMP program to actually increase water availability and treatment to rural Tribes, especially in California, where current water law, almost universally limits any restoration of Tribal Water sources, rights, location, access and treatment. Many California water districts date their water rights from the gold rush era claims to water and most Tribes in California are more than a I 00 years late to establishing their inherent and sovereign rights to access water.
  • California is struggling through bad management and we need current set asides and improved access to the BIA water attorney's in order to now not be squeezed out by powerful California Water interests, with deep pockets. We recommend a portion of the BIA funds set aside money for Water Rights reclamation, improved (water) well development and planning funds to help deliver water to California's 'driest' reservations.” (44-Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians)

The Yurok Tribe strongly supports funding for delivery of potable water and housing improvement.  The Yurok Tribe also commends the proposed federal investment in housing improvement.  Your proposed allocation of a minimum amount to each tribe and the remaining 70% to be distributed based on enrollment data is acceptable and workable. (30-Yurok Tribe)

[P]otable water needs are necessary and a human right but so is wastewater processing.  To maintain a safe and clean environment - wastewater improvements need to be addressed with ARP 2021 funds, too. (21-Pueblo of Santa Ana)

Due to the relatively small amount of funding for potable water and the lack of a comparable program within BIA, the Choctaw Nation supports the general premise of distributing funds to the regions and providing a process whereby tribes can submit projects for potable water. (23-Choctaw Nation; see comments for more background)

The BIA sub-allocation of $20 million for the provision and delivery of potable water must be flexibly distributed so that tribal nations can use these critical dollars for innovation, the maintenance and expansion of existing programs, and for leveraging with other sources of federal and non-federal funding.  Our Tribe is in dire need of this funding to ensure our reservation has adequate and safe water supplies to be a livable homeland and to keep reservation residents healthy.  We have outlined our shovel-ready potable water projects and specific water system needs in the Addendum to these consultation comments, titled, "Potable Water Delivery Needs for BIA ARP Funding."  [W]e provide a highlight of the major recommendations that we have for the BIA to consider in allocating these funds. (24-Oglala Sioux Tribe; see comments for more background)

The $20 million in funds managed by the BIA-DBD for Field Operations to provide and deliver potable water should be evenly distributed to a certain level amongst tribes, with opportunities given to tribes to submit for additional funding based on a Needs Analysis. (27-Chippewa Cree Tribe; see comments for more background)

The Yurok Tribe strongly supports funding for delivery of potable water and housing improvement.  The Yurok Tribe is facing perhaps the worst drought year than has been seen in quite some time.  As many of our reservation households rely on local streams, the Yurok Tribe is planning ahead for water deliveries.  Clean, potable water is essential for fighting contagions like COVID-19.  As the need will vary tribal nation to tribal nation, your proposed allocation system makes sense. (30-Yurok Tribe)

USET SPF agrees that [Potable Water Funds] should be distributed on an as-needed basis to Tribal governments.  For DOI’s benefit, we note that there are COVID-19-related situations among our membership where potable water is required, such as for temporary housing that cannot be connected to existing water infrastructure. (32-USET SPF)

We understand that the potable water is intended for providing emergency drinking water to our community members.  However, this is only a temporary solution.  We would like to propose that the BIA establish a long-term water program to address our potable water disparities on the reservation.  We also understand that the water infrastructure funding will be available through IHS [Indian Health Service], but we want to stress that this amount is simply not sufficient for the infrastructure required for our community centers and homeowners on the reservation.  Upgrades are needed for each of our water systems…to implement the proper systems for drinkable water within our communities. (33-Leech Lake Band; see comments for more background)

The BIA sub-allocation of $20 million for the provision and delivery of potable water must be flexibly distributed so that tribal nations can use these critical dollars for innovation, the maintenance and expansion of existing programs, including traditional water infrastructure, and for leveraging with other sources of federal and non-federal funding.  Our Pueblo is in need of this funding to ensure its reservation has adequate and safe water supplies to be a livable homeland and to keep reservation residents healthy. (35-Santa Clara Pueblo; see comments for more background)

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