Osage Nation awarded $108 million in federal funds

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Osage Nation announced last week that it has been awarded $108 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The money will be used to finance ongoing and future projects, the tribe said.

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus measure on March 11.

“We look forward to putting this federal funding to work for the Osage people,” Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said in a news release.

Standing Bear has consistently made the case that the Osage Nation does a good job of managing federal funds, and funding should be provided directly to the tribal government rather than being managed by federal agencies.

“Due to specific funding criteria, Osage Nation’s COVID Task Force and legal counsel is reviewing the 151-page interim rules document to evaluate compliance and make recommendations,” the Osage Nation said regarding the new funding.

The $108 million that the Osage Nation has been awarded is almost twice the amount of the tribe’s total projected revenue for Fiscal Year 2021, of about $56.5 million.

The amount is also about 12 times as much as the approximately $9 million that the federal government has awarded Osage County government through the American Rescue Plan Act.

In its news release, the Osage Nation noted that the federal law included $350 billion in funding for state, local, territorial and tribal governments, with the intent of addressing pandemic-response needs, responding to revenue shortfalls and serving communities hardest-hit by COVID-19.

“ARPA appropriates $20 billion to tribal governments and provides that $1 billion shall be allocated equally among each of the eligible tribal governments,” the Osage Nation said. “Treasury (meaning the U.S. Treasury) determined the allocation of the remaining $19 billion using a formula that is based on tribal enrollment and employment data.”

The Osage Nation serves an overall population of some 23,000, living in Oklahoma and other states. It provides health services, educational services and other benefits to members. Its tribal health center was among the quickest and most aggressive medical entities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on Osage County.

The Osage Nation has, within the past several months, completed major projects related to its capacity to produce food for its population, and regarding the health and welfare of its members. The most recent major project completion was the opening of a walking trail complex in Pawhuska.