Tribal Government & News

Feds: August virus relief payment now requires an application first

07.16.2020 Dean Rhodes Federal government, Tribal government

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Adult Tribal members wanting to receive the scheduled $600 COVID-19 Relief Program payment from the Tribe on Aug. 14 will now have to fill out an application first to receive the funding.

According to posting on the Tribal government’s website, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued new guidance regarding the payments, which the Tribe has designated as non-taxable general welfare payments that are made to the approximately 4,500 adult members.

The new federal guidance requires that each Tribal member complete an application for the program.

“Governments have discretion to determine how to tailor assistance programs they establish in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” the federal guidance states. “However, such a program should be structured in such a manner as will ensure that such assistance is determined to be necessary in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and otherwise satisfies the requirements of the CARES Act and other applicable law. For example, a per capita payment to residents of a particular jurisdiction without an assessment of individual need would not be an appropriate use of payments from the fund.”

Tribal Council approved a third supplemental budget on June 18 that allocates $8.1 million that the Tribe received in federal funding to pay for the virus relief payments.

Adult Tribal members were to each receive $600 on June 24, July 17 and Aug. 14, Finance Officer Chris Leno said. The new application requirement only affects the Aug. 14 payment and Tribal members have until Aug. 7 to submit an application that can be found on the Tribal government’s website at

The program’s funding comes from the Tribe’s share of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act monies. Although the Tribe has not disclosed exactly how much it has received in CARES Act funding, a Harvard study estimates the amount is approximately $33 million based on the U.S. Treasury’s formula for determining allocations to Tribes.

The three summer disbursements bring the total number of coronavirus relief payments to five and help Tribal members affected by the pandemic and the absence of a June per capita distribution because Spirit Mountain Casino was closed from mid-March through May 31.

Adult Tribal members were scheduled by the end of summer to have received $2,600 in virus relief financial aid, which is approximately 56 percent of per capita distributed in 2019.

Tribal Council approved the first supplemental $1.8 million budget on April 23 and $400 payments were mailed out and deposited directly into Tribal members’ bank accounts on April 29.

Tribal Council approved a second $1.9 million supplemental budget on May 21 that sent another $400 virus relief payment to adult Tribal members to help them deal with the financial effects caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.