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Posted: March 16, 2021
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Photo courtesy Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation


March 16, 2021

Prairie Band Asks Biden Administration for Owed Funds

Treasury So Far Not Willing to Remedy Trump Era Mismanagement

MAYETTA, KANSAS—The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (“Prairie Band”) announced today that after fighting the Trump Treasury Department for $7.5 million in CARES Act funding it is due, it is now appealing to the Biden Administration to make the fair payment.

The tribe opposes the Treasury Department’s efforts to deny Tribal governments their “fair share” of CARES funding appropriated by Congress nearly a year ago to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

In January 2021, the federal Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia ruled that the Trump Administration Treasury Department had improperly used Indian housing block grant data to distribute CARES Act funds.  The appellate court also granted an injunction in favor of lead plaintiff Shawnee Tribe concluding that it would be “likely to succeed in its claim that the IHBG data is not a suitable proxy for “increased expenditures” and that “the Secretary is distributing congressionally appropriated funds in violation of the authorizing statute.”

Instead of offering a fair settlement to resolve the dispute, last week the Treasury Department announced a Tribal consultation to develop a new CARES funding formula in an effort to void the case and deny any requested relief.  Thus, the Prairie Band would lose over $7.5 million to which it was entitled based on its population, and the plaintiff Shawnee and Miccosukee Tribes would each lose nearly 100% of their fair entitlement. 

In response to the government’s action, Prairie Band Chairman Joseph Rupnick stated:

“I am extremely disappointed that the federal government is going to such lengths to deny Tribal governments their fair share of CARES funding. Congress provided CARES Act dollars nearly a year ago to help our tribes and our people respond to the Coronavirus, but the Trump Treasury Department used a wholly inappropriate housing-based formula that cost us and other tribes millions of dollars of needed relief. I ask the Biden Administration to re-visit this decision and immediately provide us with fair treatment and fair payment.”

CARES Act Litigation: Shawnee Tribe v. Yellen (Shawnee Tribe v. Mnuchin)

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