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ONC Receives $17 Million In ARPA Funding; Providing $1,500 Checks To Tribal Members

Orutsararmiut Native Council

More coronavirus relief funding has arrived for Y-K Delta tribes. Bethel's Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC) has received over $17 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The tribe is using some of that money to provide checks to tribal members. Eligible members can apply for a $1,500 payment. 

ONC tribal members are eligible for the direct payment check if they have experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a letter written by ONC’s new executive director, Zack Brink. Brink said that tribal members are eligible for the checks regardless of whether or not they live in Bethel.

ONC’s online application asks tribal members about their income and whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their employment or housing and food security.

Brink wrote in his letter that these checks are intended to assist families in responding to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, with subsistence needs and heating fuel, and with paying for school supplies as in-person learning resumes in Bethel this month.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ARPA funds offer more flexibility to tribes in how they’re used than CARES Act funding. Last year, Y-K Delta tribes were split on whether CARES Act funding could be used for direct payment checks to tribal members.

Also different from CARES Act funding, ARPA funding will not expire after a certain time. Brink wrote in an email to KYUK that ONC’s tribal council members will meet on Sept. 15 to decide other ways that the tribe will spend its ARPA funds.