OKMLUGEE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee Nation is currently figuring out how to distribute funds to citizens received from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council recognized the need of direct assistance for citizens and families in a section of NCA 21-077, which authorized the expenditure of ARPA funds to establish the COVID-19 Impact Relief Individual Assistance Program.
The legislation states that the approval of $2,000 direct assistance will be provided to all citizens regardless of age, income or residency.
In a July 1 press release, MCN NC stated the legislation had been approved by full council and sent to Principal Chief David Hill for approval, which has since been signed into law.
The executive branch has 120 days to implement the Act’s provisions.
According to MN Press Secretary Jason Salsman, the executive branch is working tirelessly to have a system prepared before the 120-day timeline.
“That was just a deadline put on it, we want to do this as fast as possible and I think we are a lot closer to announcing a process than we are at the end of that 120-days,” Salsman said.
He said there are two things the executive branch must follow: final guidance from the Department of Treasury and the legislation the National Council has passed.
“Right now they are formulating a plan that’s looking to satisfy both of those things,” Salsman said. “The Principal Chief and the National Council had expressed a desire to catch as many citizens as we can.”
Salsman said when he heard from citizens regarding the last distribution of funds (CARES Act), there were concerns from those who were not eligible to receive it due to exceeding the income qualifications.
He stated there were many things learned from the application process from the last distribution and both governmental branches are trying to create a process that makes it easier for citizens to receive that funding.
“We understand that those are sentiments that citizens have,” Salsman said. “We just have to make sure that we do what is allowable by Treasury guidelines because again it is federal funding.”
Salsman claimed a final guidance should come from the Department of Treasury by the end of July.
According to a July 14 press release from NC, implementation of the CIRIA program will entail the need to get documentation from tribal citizens, along with a determination of the most effective way to deliver assistance to recipients.
“The Muscogee (Creek) National Council Representatives ask Muscogee (Creek) citizens to be patient, as the Executive branch implements an assistance effort that is unprecedented in our tribe’s history,” the release stated. “As in previous, challenging times and conditions that confronted our people, our elected leadership is answering current needs with a unified, broad response.”
The MCN National Council hired Lacey Horn with Native Advisory LLC on their behalf to work directly with the executive branch and Secretary of Commerce Terra Branson-Thomas to help streamline this process for citizens.
Legislation and reference materials which includes guidelines, frequently asked questions, and further information regarding the funds received can be found on the National Council’s website: www.mcnnc.com.
Mvskoke Media will continue to follow this story and report any information about the CIRIA program as it develops.