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Applications for the Choctaw Nation’s latest COVID-19 relief programs will go live Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Choctaw Nation Tribal Council members unanimously approved the expenditure of the $944 million the tribe received through the American Rescue Plan Act during its Aug. 14 meeting in Tvhskahomma with $627,154,677 of the money received going towards the COVID-19 relief funds.

The remaining $317,271,274 will be used per U.S. Treasury guidelines for COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts, technology, infrastructure, and public health.

“ARPA programs were designed to assist every Choctaw tribal member impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton said in a video posted on the tribe’s social media accounts. “Tribal council and I hope this assistance will help you and your family recover from this pandemic.”

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law March 11 with Native American tribes receiving more than $31 billion — the largest-ever investment to Native American communities. The funds can be obligated through Dec. 31, 2024.

Starting Sept. 1, all Choctaw Nation tribal members nationwide can apply for economic impact recovery programs.

Eligible dependent minors who are Choctaw Nation tribal members or who are eligible to become Choctaw Nation tribal members, are eligible to receive annual payments on a pre-loaded debit card to be used towards food security, childcare assistance, technology, and internet access. Dependents newborn to 17 years old will receive $700 per year for two years for a total benefit amount of $1,400.

According to the tribe, parents and legal guardians that have a dependent minor without tribal membership are required to submit the following: birth certificate with proof of biological tribal member as parent and proof of guardianship, and have an application filed with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Membership Department.

Tribal members over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive annual payments on a pre-loaded debit card $1,000 per year for two years for a total benefit amount of $2,000 to be used towards necessary living expenses.

The tribe states all applicants must attest that they have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency to receive assistance and upon request, be required to provide supporting evidence of this negative impact.

The applications will be open through June 30, 2022, with the tribe saying the second payment will be made after the application period closes.

“This funding will be available to all Choctaw tribal members living anywhere in the United States,” Batton said.

New applications will be needed for the new programs and will be available on the tribe’s Chahta Achvffa member portal online at www.chahtaachvffa.choctawnation.com. Tribal members without access to the internet can contact any of the tribe’s 17 community centers for assistance.

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