Tribes Of The World

Yellen of the US Treasury will visit tribal communities; promises greater commitment

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attends the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK on November 3, 2021. REUTERS / Phil Noble

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday said she would visit tribal communities within the next year as her department continues to expand its engagement with Native American tribes , who have been disproportionately hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yellen said on the second day of a White House tribal nations summit that nearly 100% of a $ 20 billion COVID-19 relief fund for tribes had been disbursed, which she said was “fairly quick”, but more help was needed.

A new $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill was enacted on Monday and a $ 1.75 billion social and climate spending bill that is still under consideration in Congress would provide crucial support additional to tribal governments and families, she said.

Yellen said she realized soon after starting her post as Secretary of the Treasury that the department did not have adequate staff or resources to help Native Americans struggling with the economic impact of the pandemic, because his contacts were previously largely limited to the Internal Revenue Service.

“You don’t need a doctorate in economics to know that our economy has never worked well for Native Americans or people living in Indian countries,” she said, according to a text of her remarks.

But she said the Biden administration is committed to changing that fact and ensuring that indigenous communities are represented in the Treasury and in its political decisions.

She said the rapid disbursement of recovery funds to tribal communities reflected this commitment and the creation of a “dedicated tribal team” within the Treasury Recovery Programs Office, which held more than 10 consultation meetings and 50 briefings during the past year.

“We will continue to do all we can to ensure that your communities get on the other side of this crisis,” she said, noting the boost that President Joe Biden’s planned increase in spending on childcare and free preschool would give Native Americans.

Treasury made no immediate comment on the size of the new Treasury tribal team.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal

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