Dear Secretary Mnuchin,
We write to respectfully comment on the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis on American Indian tribal economies, tribes’ responses to the crisis, and on implications for the allocation of federal COVID-19 response funds to federally recognized tribes under the CARES Act and related current and forthcoming federal actions. Under federal policies of self-determination, American Indian tribes are tasked with the same responsibilities for meeting the needs of their citizens as state and local governments. Tribes, however, operate under unique and highly constrained economic and fiscal constraints that must be taken into account as federal COVID-19 response dollars are allocated by your Department. We will shortly release a longer and more detailed study of these issues. Here, we provide key points from our research findings, condensed in the hopes of contributing useful information within the appropriately tight timeframe in which the federal government and the US Department of the Treasury are working to meet the pressing challenges brought on by COVID-19.