WASHINGTON — The $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed by Congress last week contains an historic amount of funding for Indigenous Americans. It includes $31 billion to help tribal communities recover from the pandemic – the largest single infusion of resources to tribal communities in U.S. history.

Senator Tina Smith, a Minnesota Democrat, said, “We can see every single day that this pandemic has not been the great equalizer. It has affected most the people who are already at risk and already dealing with real challenges.”

According to Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs committee, Indigenous Americans who contract COVID-19 are four times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be hospitalized and two times more likely to die from it.

She says that’s one of the many reasons why this funding is so important.

“These dollars are going to help them to shore up their budgets, so that they can keep people employed, they’re going to help to support their education systems and their health systems,” Smith said.