Our COVID-19 Response

Tribal Law. Tribal Solutions.

In early 2020, the Firm organized a dedicated work group to advise clients on the rapidly evolving impact that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was having on Indian tribes and Indian owned businesses. Our COVID-19 working group includes senior attorneys with significant experience in legislative and administrative affairs, federal programs and federal funding, corporate counseling, litigation, finance, employment and labor, housing, education, federal health care programs and social services.

We have successfully assisted clients in the following areas:

Families First and CARES Acts

  • Actively participated in legislative efforts to shape the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • Drafted proposed language for each of those bills.
  • Advocated directly with OMB, the US Treasury, BIA, IHS, HHS, SBA, HHS and EPA leadership on the implementation of the Indian provisions of those laws.
  • Provided clients with legal advice and assistance with both their tribal consultation on, and the tribal implementation of, the new funding opportunities under those new laws.
  • Provided legal advice on how our tribal clients might address the employment and public health and safety issued that they faced because of the pandemic and related shutdowns.
  • Kept (and we continue to keep) our tribal clients advised on the ever-changing federal rules and guidance on the eligible uses of CARES Act and other Covid-19 related funds.
  • Provided legal advice, analysis, and research for clients on their litigation options to protect their tribal interests during the pandemic.
  • Kept and are keeping our clients apprised of new COVID-19 grant opportunities in all program areas.
  • Drafted new tribal codes, regulations, policies, and rules for implementing their COVID-19 programs and responses.

Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act

  • Assisted tribally owned businesses and non-profit entities, and Indian owned businesses with securing Paycheck Protection Program loans.
  • Provided clients direct analysis and legal advice in their efforts to seek Paycheck Protection Program loans.
  • Assisted clients in obtaining $5,887,781.00 in the Paycheck Protection Program Loans.
  • Successfully litigated the SBA prohibition against lending to tribal casinos under the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Actively participated in federal agency and Congressional advocacy efforts to persuade SBA amend prohibition against lending to tribal casinos under the Paycheck Protection Program. Obtained numerous Congressional letters of support for this change.

Future Legislation

  • Currently engaged in Congressional and Agency advocacy on the federal formulas for distribution of the second round of Tribal Relief Act Funding. Also working with those same federal entities to expand the scope of legitimate uses of those dollars.
  • Working with tribal governments on a variety of questions surrounding the legal uses of and the proper accounting for all types of COVID-10 funding.
  • Lobbying Congress for additional and more favorable provisions in the future COVID-19 legislation.
  • Working in consultation with NCAI, NIHB, NIAHC, NAFOA and other Inter-tribal national and regional organizations on these efforts.

On-Going Governmental Agency Consultations

  • Continuing to advise clients on COVID-19 Consultation sessions with Treasury, OMB, DOI, HHS, TANF, SNAP, CDC, Medicare and Medicaid, HUD, and the Department of Education.

Tribal Operations

  • Advised and assisted clients in locating supply chains for personal protection equipment and other essential equipment.
  • Reviewed and prepared contracts for and solicitations for procurement of essential equipment and property to respond to the pandemic and to prepare to re-open tribal government and tribally owned businesses.
  • Advised on jurisdictional matters to establish tribal checkpoints on Reservations.
  • Assisted clients in identifying alternative funding sources for COVID 19 response including FEMA and other federal and state funding.
  • Advised on business interruption and property damage insurance claims related to COVID-19 and on issues surrounding the future liability of the tribe.

Tribal Policies and Procedures

  • Prepared Communicable Disease Policies and Pandemic Response Policies for tribal governments.
  • Prepared Emergency Administrative leave and furlough policies for tribal governments.
  • Prepared Emergency Administrative leave policies for Tribally Controlled Schools, tribal housing authorities, and tribal colleges. Many of these were subsequently adopted, in whole or in part, by the Bureau of Indian Education for Tribal colleges.
  • Prepared various Personnel Policy revisions including Hazardous Duty Pay policies, Families First Act leave provisions, work from home policies and hazard pay provisions for tribes, tribal schools, tribal housing authorities and tribal health care programs.
  • Prepared CARES Act relief program policies and guidance for emergency tenant rental assistance and tenant emergency utility deposit assistance.
  • Prepared memorandums of Understanding with tribal governments to set aside housing for quarantine, for essential workers, and for rent and homebuyer payment deferment, and forgiveness plans.
  • Prepared return to work and essential worker safety protocols and procedures and employment agreements for tribes and tribal entities.
  • Advised clients in establishing General Welfare Ordinances to permit COVID-19 relief act assistance to members to fall outside of federal taxation.
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