WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today applauded the passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a bold legislative package that will help address the public health and economic crises that continue to impact the American people. The ARP contains several provisions that fund Interior initiatives and benefit the communities we directly serve, including Tribal governments and schools.
“One year into the pandemic, the challenges we face are still significant – and continue to disproportionately impact American Indian and Alaska Native communities, people of color, and rural Americans. The Biden-Harris American Rescue Plan will deliver immediate relief to families, businesses, and schools across the country,” said Acting Secretary Scott de la Vega. “Interior stands ready to implement this historic relief package and get help out to the American people as quickly as possible.”
COVID-19 has exacted an especially high toll in Indian Country. People living on reservations are four times more likely to have COVID-19 and American Indians and Alaska Natives are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans. Native American families and small businesses also face severe economic challenges associated with the pandemic. And the loss of Native elders threatens the sacred preservation of language, tradition, and culture. This bill makes a historic $31.2 billion investment in Tribal communities, the largest single investment the United States has ever made in Indian country. At Interior, this includes:
$900 million for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which will include direct aid payments to Tribal governments and funding to address concerns related to housing and potable water, and
$850 million for the Bureau of Indian Education, which will benefit BIE-funded schools and Tribal colleges and universities.
The ARP also makes an unprecedented investment in addressing wildlife-related pandemic concerns, including:
$105 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service to address wildlife trafficking, wildlife disease outbreaks, and wildlife inspections, and for research to strengthen early detection, rapid response, and science-based management to address wildlife disease outbreaks before they become pandemics and strengthen capacity for wildlife health monitoring.
The Interior Department continues to work with federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial governments, public health officials, health care providers, researchers and the public to execute a whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the health and safety of the American people. More information can be found on the Our Response to COVID-19 page.