April 15, 2020


BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), today convened a video conference with North Dakota Tribal leaders and officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to discuss implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in tribal communities.


“Tribal enterprises, including small businesses, are essential to the economy in North Dakota and across the nation. Many tribal communities are experiencing hardships due to COVID-19. That’s why it is important for Indian Tribes to be involved in the implementation of the CARES Act and to have access to the many resources it provides,” said Hoeven. “The tribal provisions will greatly help American Indians and Alaska Natives mitigate and respond to COVID-19 cases within their communities. We must continue to work together to address the spread of the coronavirus.”


As Chairman of SCIA, Hoeven secured many of the tribal provisions in the CARES Act. During the discussion, federal officials explained how the CARES Act benefits the native communities in North Dakota. Hoeven highlighted key provisions that benefit Indian Country:


Paycheck Protection Program – enables tribally owned small businesses and self-employed individuals to maintain payroll through forgivable, federally-guaranteed loans.
Tribal Relief Fund – provides $8 billion for Indian Tribes to address COVID-19 public health emergency efforts.
Distressed Business Loan Guarantees – directs $454 billion to financial institutions for loans and loan guarantees to severely distressed sectors, of which Indian Tribes and tribal businesses are eligible entities able to receive these dollars.
Over $10 billion in additional resources in the areas of Agriculture, Health, Education, Housing, Natural Resources, and Bureau of Indian Affairs for COVID-19 related efforts.


The following federal officials were present and participated in the video conference:


Dr. Jose Montero, Director, Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Montero is Director of the division at CDC that is responsible for coordinating COVID-19 funding opportunities for Tribes.

Dr. Michael Weahkee, Principal Deputy Director, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Michael Toedt, Chief Medical Officer, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Toedt is the agency’s lead expert on medical and public health policies and issues providing advice to the IHS Director on delivering quality COVID-19 response health care.