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The American Rescue Plan: How It Helps American Indians and Alaska Natives

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is the largest investment of resources into Indian Country and tribal communities in U.S. history.

The American Rescue Plan,  signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, invests $1.75 billion in American Indian and Alaska Native government programs administered under the oversight of the Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (AS-IA). 

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) makes changes to laws and provides emergency supplemental funding to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

About the ARP Act

For the first time ever, Congress has given the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Services Urban Indian Health Programs and Native Hawaiian Health Centers equal access to federal Medicaid reimbursement resources to support the health of tribal communities and members.

In another first, Congress also provided tribes with direct, equal access to the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative Program to support tribal business.

The American Rescue Plan authorizes $900 million in funding for AS-IA and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to support a wide range of COVID-19 response activities, including: 

  • $772.5 million for tribal government services, public safety and justice, social services, child welfare assistance, and other related expenses 
  • $100 million for tribal housing improvement 
  • $20 million to provide and deliver potable water; and 
  • $7.5 million for related federal administrative costs and oversight 

In addition, $850 million will go to the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) for BIE-operated schools, tribally controlled schools, and tribal colleges and universities to support quality education delivery while protecting students, teachers, and communities from COVID-19.

The Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs will consult with the leaders of federally recognized tribal governments to discuss how the American Rescue Plan can be best implemented to serve the needs of tribal communities.

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