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Shawnee tribe lawsuit over CARES Act funding distribution continues

Posted at 12:46 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 14:02:22-05

MIAMI, Okla. — Federal appeals court overturned the Shawnee tribe lawsuit over the CARES Act funding distribution on Tuesday.

Pilar Thomas, the attorney representing the Shawnee tribe, said, "What the Court of Appeals did was overturn the motion to dismiss, and so the case is still alive and we go back to the district court to argue the merits of our claim.”

In October 2020, 2 Works For You reported Shawnee Chief Ben Barnes discovered his tribe would not get the full amount of coronavirus CARES Act money because the Treasury Department's formula for determining how much funding tribes should receive presented a problem.

The treasury used the Indian Housing Block Grant Program as one formula for determining how much money tribes should receive.

READ MORE: Shawnee tribe files lawsuit over CARES Act funding distribution

"So, in that formula, the Shawnee tribe has a population of zero. And that's because the formula is primarily based on census data. The Shawnee tribe does not have a census tract, and because of that, it doesn't participate in the Indian Housing Block Grant Program, at least not in the main part of the program. So, the data formula for the Indian Housing Block Grant formula for Shawnee is zero," explained Thomas.

The Shawnee tribe said it received the minimum amount a tribe could receive, $100,000. According to a Harvard and University of Arizona study, the Shawnee tribe should have received $4.5 million. The tribe said it had no choice but to sue over the funding formula.

The Shawnee tribe is one of about two dozen across the United States facing this funding problem with the CARES Act money.

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