CARES Act v. IHS/BIA budget

IHS Budget Appropriation:

IHS Fact Sheet

  • FY 2016: $4.8 billion
  • FY 2017: $5.0 billion
  • FY 2018: $5.5 billion
  • FY 2019: $5.8 billion

BIA 2020 budget – $1.9 billion

2020 CARES Act funding for Alaska Native and American Indian Tribes and ANCs

$8 billion

Department of Treasury Press Release


Navajo Nation received $600 million in CARES Act funding. But they don’t know how to spend it. How can this be?


In a quote from the Navajo Times, “We did send a letter to our congressional delegation asking for an extension,” said Nez. “We have to have ask for an extension. While everyone else was spending their CARES Act fund … we had to wait seven, eight weeks before the money came to Navajo.”

Prez, Council ponder spending $600M by December Navajo Times – Alyssa Becenti

Additionally, they are not given a list of eligiblity projects they can spend the money on. “We understand water has been a major issue,” said Resource and Development Chair Rickie Nez. “A lot of our people need water. Would this be a necessary expenditure to pay for that?”

…Tribal attorneys were unable to give him a firm yes or no. “I know there is a lot of frustration from the delegates so far in that they are not getting the answer they want,” said Chief Legislative Chief Counsel Dana Bobroff, “when they ask if this particular project is eligible for funding under the Navajo Nation CARES Act. “There is no list from the treasury … there are examples, and criteria on what type of project is eligible,” she said.


For me, this is a direct example of the difference between some Sovereign Tribes and the Alaska Native Self-governance/Self-determination organizational structure.

I have no judgement, but as an observer, this is fascinating to me.

In Alaska, we are very comfortable defining our priorities and allocating federal (and other) funds for those priorities. We would be enraged if the federal government made a list for us from their office in DC.

Alaska Native and American Indian people are all at varying places of owning their power.

I think that in the decades of fighting to be empowered, we have to now adjust to exercising that power.