NewsNative America: Road to Recovery


Cherokee Nation's plan to give individual assistance to its citizens

Posted at 1:38 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 14:38:29-04

"It's a great relief because I can start saving and put money back for her college, so it's for whatever she wants to do when she gets older."

At the old gym at Sequoyah High School, Sean Hohulski just completed the enrollment process for his 8-month-old daughter to be recognized as a Cherokee citizen.

"Just getting her registered to help with the benefits of being a tribe member and the relief program, we're going to put it into a college savings fund for her to kind of get her started on that," says Hohulski.

The tribe is seeing a large amount of applications for enrollment after this latest round of federal coronavirus relief funding passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.

"The CARES Act was certainly about the immediacy of a pandemic that was ever-evolving, lots of dangers out there," says Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. "It's still a dangerous world. The pandemic is still there, but the American Rescue Plan Act allows us to continue to meet those immediate needs, but also do some things that are going to make a generational impact that will actually be a hedge against this calamity that we've had."

Like the CARES Act funding a year ago, the American Rescue Place aims to provide billions in relief directly to tribal nations.

"Get it started now," says Hohulski. "If you can take advantage of the assistance that the tribe provides, it helps out."

Of the $1.8 billion the Cherokee Nation received, $700 million is going straight to individual assistance.

"It was super simple. We just got in the car and came out here," says Courteney Dickerson, a Cherokee Nation citizen. "Everybody has made it super easy. The process has been extremely easy for us."

The Cherokee Nation says citizens will receive a one-time payment of $2,000.

"Other expenses that are just unavoidable, those have gone up and they've hit Cherokees in the pocketbook," says Chief Hoskin Jr. "So dedicating this funding is very meaningful. It's getting a lot of response."

"I think, at the end of the day, it's just a good thing for everybody. It's going to help you personally," Dickerson says. "It's going to help the businesses around here, so I think it's worth taking off the day and coming down here."

Tribal members have until June 1, 2022, to apply through the tribe's online portal. The tribe says minor children will be able to apply through the portal as well.

"These dollars are going into Cherokee communities because that's where our Cherokees live that means these communities are getting stronger," says Chief Hoskin Jr.

For those who have already applied, the tribe says to expect funds sometime later this month.

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