BIA Announces the Disbursement of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds for Indian Country

E.J. John

Policy & Research Analyst

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) granted a total of $31.2 Billion to Indian Country, including the agencies that serve Tribal nations. The bill was signed on March 11, 2021, and federal agencies are still currently working on the disbursement formulas for the ARPA funds.  However, on Friday, April 30, 2021, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced their plan to disperse the $900 million appropriated to them in the ARPA.

ARPA funds are intended to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the BIA’s disbursement plan goes to address many of the necessary services that arose during the pandemic. The disbursement plan consists of:

  • $20 million for potable water delivery.

  • $100 million for housing improvement.

  • $700 million for federally recognized Tribes listed on BIA’s Federal Registry Notice, and allocations will be made according to Tribal enrollment data.

  • $30 million for law enforcement and detention funding.

  • $30 million for Tribes in P.L. 280 states that can be used for public safety services other than law enforcement, such as Tribal courts.

  • $12.5 million will be held at the BIA for other unexpected needs.

  • $7.5 million to be managed centrally at the BIA for administrative and oversight costs.

The BIA held three Tribal Consultations to gather input from Tribes regarding the disbursement of the $900 million ARPA funds. A major point of discussion at the consultations was the method to be used to determine Tribal enrollment. A majority of the comments collected by the BIA were in favor of using Tribal enrollment data certified by Tribes themselves. Therefore, the BIA developed the following formula to disburse the $700 million going to federally recognized Tribes:

  • Tribes will be divided into 20 groups based on Tribal enrollment data called “bands.” There will be a minimum of $50,000 for Tribes with an enrollment of up to 60 members.

  • For the four Tribes with the largest enrollment numbers, there will be weighted amount allocations that are different from highest Band 1 allocations.

The disbursement of funds is expected to take place over the next few weeks. Further explanation on the BIA’s funding methodology for other areas such as potable water delivery and housing development can be found here

AIPI will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.