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More than 65 percent of CPN CARES Act distribution allotted for Tribal member programs

Exterior photos of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Headquarters May 10, 2013 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Photo / Kevin Pyle.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation CARES Act programs have expanded, allocating more than 65 percent of CPN’s CARES Act distribution to Tribal member programs.

On June 29, the CPN Tribal Legislature passed a resolution to expand funding access to CPN members nationwide who have been impacted by the economic fallout due to the coronavirus. Phase II of the Tribe’s CARES Act response will provide several options to support Citizen Potawatomi members around the country with various needs that may arise from the pandemic.

While the CARES Act was enacted on March 27, 2020, tribal governments did not begin to receive payments until May, which was later than the deadline established by Congress and after states began to receive distributions.

“We have crafted these programs to get financial support to our Tribal citizens by using the most up-to-date information from the federal government, who has put up roadblock after roadblock on the distribution and use of these funds,” said Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett. “In Phase II, we have established a legal and more efficient means of helping our members while this economic and public health crisis continues. As we receive new guidance, we will continue to adapt these programs to serve our Tribal population.”

In Phase II of the CPN CARES Act programs, financial support for school and college age students around the country is available. Housing support and grocery stipends for Tribal elders and those on disability will also be provided.

“Our Tribal Legislature approved these new programs at the end of June. Since that time, our staff has been working to prepare for a significant demand in assistance,” Tribal Chairman Barrett said. “The elder and disabled food assistance programs offer monthly support. Due to the timing of the applications becoming available, any applicants deemed eligible in August will also receive a payment for July.”

Phase I updates

As previously reported, Phase I’s programs primarily focused on two direct financial support issues for either individual assistance or Tribal member-owned businesses. According the federal guidance provided at the time of their release by CPN, the Nation had to count federal stimulus funds when determining the payment amount and eligibility for applicants.

After consultation with external and internal CPN legal counsel, Tribal executives have ordered that the stimulus funds not be counted against the total support that the Nation can provide to members.

“We received clarification to direct questions we asked the Treasury concerning these issues. Having done that due diligence, we believe it is safe for our Tribal government to amend this requirement,” said Tribal Attorney George Wright.

For members who have already applied but did not meet the previous standards, the COVID-19 Crisis Compliance Department will review previously submitted applications. If a member was denied support due to the federal stimulus check, staff will issue a distribution of funds according to their need.

Future programs

“As this unprecedented situation continues to evolve, we’re going to adapt our programs to best serve our Tribal population,” Barrett added. “We’re working with our legal department, the U.S. Congress, and U.S. Treasury to build programs within the federally-issued guidelines to serve our Tribal citizens.”

A full listing and description of the CPN CARES Act Phase II Programs and application portal can be found by visiting potawatomi.org/cares.