By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Tribal Council approved aid for the Navajo Nation, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, during a specially-called session on Thursday, April 23. Council passed Res. No. 177 (2020) unanimously which approves up to $100,000 from the General Fund of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) “for the purpose of immediate medical and community needs for the Navajo Nation”.
According to the Navajo Department of Health, as of Wednesday, April 22, their nation has 1,282 positive cases and 49 deaths in a total of nine counties in three states in their tribal territory.
“Even amidst this public health crisis, the EBCI has been incredibly blessed,” Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, who submitted the legislation, said in a statement to the One Feather. “We are blessed to not have many active cases in our community, and we are blessed to have the resources necessary to share with those not as fortunate as us. The Navajo Nation needs our help, and it is our duty to provide it.”
He added, “I thank Tribal Council for their support of this resolution and look forward to continuing to build the relationship between the EBCI and the Navajo Nation in the coming years.”
Res. No. 177 states in part, “…the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been stewards in helping other tribes during a crisis, and a monetary donation should be issued to assist the Navajo Nation in acquiring their medical and community needs.”
Similarly, the Cherokee Nation has also reached out with help for the Navajo Nation. On Thursday, they sent 5,000 N95 masks to the Navajo. “Solidarity across Indian Country includes pitching in to help,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “We are fortunate that the Cherokee Nation’s health system is well-supplied. This week, we’ve donated PPEs (personal protection equipment) to first responders in all 14 counties, and now we’re sending some N95 masks to Navajo Nation for its health system.”
Also on Thursday, Council approved two other measures which will further help the EBCI community. Res. No. 176 (2020), submitted by Chief Sneed, authorizes an additional $250,000 allocation from the EBCI General Fund to the Sequoyah Fund for continuation of grant funding to small businesses.
The legislation, which passed 10-0 with Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose and Painttown Rep. Dike Sneed absent, states, “The purpose of this funding is to continue grant making activities for small businesses to assist in the preservation of employment during and post-closure of non-essential businesses on the Qualla Boundary. The Sequoyah Fund will be tasked with the continued administration of grant making activities and is permitted to assess a management fee of up to 5 percent on this additional allocation of funding.”
Another piece of legislation Council tackled during Thursday’s special session was Res. No. 175 (2020), also submitted by Chief Sneed, which authorizes him “to submit an application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to contract for ATGP (Aid to Tribal Government Program) under Public Law 93-638”.
Chief Sneed said of this legislation, “I appreciate Tribal Council’s approval of the resolution submitted giving the EBCI authority to apply for Bureau of Indian Affairs grant funding which was made available by the CARES Act. This funding will assist the EBCI to prepare for and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The EBCI Treasury Division expects to receive additional information regarding the dispersement of the CARES Act funding by the U.S. Treasury in the coming days. Per the CARES Act, that funding must be allocated to tribes no later than April 27. I would like to thank our EBCI Treasury Division for their work to make sure the EBCI has the resources needed to give tribal citizens and the EBCI government the tools necessary to make it through this public health crisis.”
Res. No. 175 passed 11-0 with Rep. Sneed absent.