In early March, the EPA announced it’s allocating $1.6 million in federal grant money to support tribal water and air quality projects throughout the country. The grant money is a small portion of funds the American Rescue Plan is investing in Native American communities.
However, numerous qualifications determine whether or not a tribe can actually receive federal assistance. For example, the EPA’s grants are only available to federally recognized tribes that submit a project proposal by the deadline date in mid-May.
The proposal has to engage tribal community members or offer educational opportunities that address clean air or drinking water. Then, the American Rescue Plan will divide the grant money among 16 projects, each totaling $100,000, to eligible tribes.
What Is The American Rescue Plan?
The American Rescue Plan is a federal program created to provide emergency funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the American Rescue Plan invests $1.75 billion in Native American and Alaskan Native government programs, aiming to make critical changes to laws and policies.
Overall, the program addresses issues like housing improvements and law enforcement funding in Native communities. As a result, these changes to outdated laws will offer an improved way of life and address blatant disparities some reservations face.
Grant Money Dedicated To Much-Needed Sources
The EPA allocating a substantial amount of government money draws attention to the overwhelming need for clean water and air in Native American communities. As of 2019, at least two million Americans still don’t have access to running water or a working toilet.
On top of that, the U.S. Water Alliance notes Indigenous communities are more harshly affected by these numbers than other demographics.
Although access to clean water is a luxury most Americans take for granted, the same can’t be said for Natives on certain reservations. For example, reservations with a lack of access to clean water consistently have higher mortality, unemployment, and poverty rates.
“This funding opportunity will help ensure that our Tribal Nation partners and their communities are prioritized within EPA’s whole-of-government approach to address environmental challenges,” the Director of the American Indian Environment Office, JoAnn Chase, explains.
Focusing on stabilizing necessities like clean water and air can transform several avenues for Native American communities. One example is how limited access to clean water affects epidemics like high unemployment and high school dropout rates.
So, when federal government branches like the EPA step in, the disproportionate percentages can gradually shift to reflect positive change.