Ft. Washakie, WY– The deadline is nearing to apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Living Assistance in the amount of $800 for all enrolled members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. The last day to apply is June 26 via paper, online, or phone.
The Eastern Shoshone Business Council applied for and received roughly $10 million through the CARES Act. The SBC came up with several areas where the funding could be applied to help tribal members.
“We began to compile data and statistics in regards to the prevalence of COVID-19 on the Wind River Indian Reservation and found that areas most critically impacted were based on socioeconomic status, household composition, disability, minority status, housing type, transportation needs and overall healthcare disparities,” said Shoshone Business Council Chairman Vernon Hill Sr.
Many tribal members were left without jobs, especially after the closing of the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel due to COVID-19. The need was evident in the community and as a result, the SBC initiated plans to disperse the $800 to each tribal member under a welfare assistance status.
“There’s a current tribal enrollment of about 4,400 members in which more than 50 percent of the membership is under the age of 25-years-old,” said SBC Vice-chair Karen Snyder. “COVID-19 has directly impacted many young families by cutting their food resources and jeopardizing their ability to pay rent and utilities.”
The SBC also plans to apply funding for other much needed tribal services and programs. New generators will be purchased for the Rocky Mountain Hall and Big Wind Hall to support an isolation unit in the case of a surge of COVID-19. Weatherization will be extended to homes occupied by seniors and handicap members. Equipment and materials will be purchased for the Shoshone Roads Program to improve roads and access to homes on the reservation.
Funding will also be applied to improve solid waste operations on the reservation. In addition, an expansion of woodcutting operations will require the purchase of a logging truck, 10 chainsaws, a trailer to haul logs to the processing sites, and an additional vehicle to deliver wood products to families.
More CARES Act funding will go towards paying water utilities for seniors and those with disabilities, as well as purchasing power poles, purchasing vehicles for food and healthcare delivery services, and deep cleaning for housing units on the reservation. The funds will also reimburse the tribe for what was spent to prevent, prepare and adequately respond to COVID-19, which includes staff time.
The $800 assistance for tribal members will be dispersed through the Eastern Shoshone Credit Program. It is not a loan nor a per capita payment. Tribal members will need to fill out a special form in order to receive the funds.
“Although tribal members want to receive it much like a per capita payment, the tribe is following guidelines and must properly keep track of the payouts to ensure the money is being used for what we said it would be used,’ Hill said. “That’s why we’re having tribal members fill out a form.”
The online form will be available on the Shoshone Credit website at shoshonecredit.org. They’ll also be available on the tribe’s website, easternshoshone.org under the “COVID-19 Information” tab. Paper forms will be available at the Fort Washakie Post Office lobby and the Joint Tribal Complex.
All forms need to be completed and returned to the Shoshone Credit Program by Friday, June 26. A dropbox will be located at the Shoshone Credit Program office for paper forms. The disbursement will be going off of the tribal enrollment as of May 31, 2020, and the custody of minor children as of the May 31, 2020 date as well.
“The deadline may seem to be too soon but tribal members have asked for help as soon as possible and we want to help them now,” Snyder said. “After the deadline, the Credit Program will try to reach out to those who did not apply for the assistance.”
After the deadline, forms will be mailed out to those who did not apply or were not aware of the assistance. Tribal members who didn’t apply will also be contacted by the Credit Program to ensure every enrolled member has an opportunity to apply.
Roughly 2,100 tribal members have already submitted their form online or to the Credit office. Checks will be mailed out by June 29, 2020. For further information please contact the Credit Program at 307-332-2920.