$750 cash relief approved for all CTUIR members

By the CUJ

MISSION – All Tribal members should expect to receive a $750 stimulus check in mid-to-late July following action June 29 by the Board of Trustees (BOT) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).

The Pandemic Relief Benefit, which will provide checks to more than 3,100 enrolled CTUIR members, will total more than $2.5 million.

A second payment is also being explored. During a work session June 25, the BOT discussed a potential disbursement later this summer using federal CARES Act funding. Those federal dollars could only be distributed to Tribal members able to provide “needs-based” documentation.

More than 30 people attended the Zoom teleconference work session after General Council Chair Lindsey Watchman sent out an online invitation for the meeting. The BOT reviewed and discussed the 2020 CARES Act Funding Budget, which was approved in the resolution authorizing the stimulus check. The budget organized all COVID-19 related funding sources and amounts.

The BOT extensively discussed the relief package, tossing around several different amounts and time frames before landing on the idea presented by BOT member Jill-Marie Gavin of distributing funds through the already-developed General Welfare process.

If a second disbursement is approved, new needs-based documentation paperwork will take some time to develop, but it could be prepared by August, according to Tribal Finance Director Paul Rabb.

The documentation is necessary in the event there is a federal audit of the CARES Act funding, according to Tribal attorney Dan Hester.

“We can use CARES to provide pandemic relief, but it has to be based on an assessment of individual need,” Hester said.

Rabb said he envisions documentation as a “one pager where you check boxes and sign.”

Discussion at the work session suggested a second COVID-19 distribution could replace the quarterly gaming revenue allocation from Wildhorse in August, which Rabb said will be “zero.”