Cherokee Nation Hopes Further Federal Virus Aid Can Be Used To Cover Lost Revenue

May 15, 2020

On a videoconference with Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Wednesday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. asked the senator to consider allowing any future federal coronavirus aid packages to contain funding that can be used to cover lost revenue, a use currently prohibited in existing aid programs.

"Indian nations, including the Cherokee Nation, will be able to demonstrate what a lot of cities and towns across the state can demonstrate, which is a massive loss of revenue," Hoskin said. "I think for tribes, the sole revenue source, really, is our businesses, and that's almost exclusively gaming. And we've shut all that down."

Inhofe said that he would consider Hoskin's request. Previously on the conference call, Inhofe had said he wasn't sure Oklahomans really needed more federal coronavirus aid. Still, he said that if a bill passed the House and reached him in the Senate, he would call Hoskin.

"Native peoples across the country have been disproportionately impacted from a medical standpoint and certainly economically we are struggling," Hoskin said. "But I appreciate that and I will look forward to that call."

Cherokee Nation has said it will not reopen their casinos until June at the earliest. Some Indian nations in Oklahoma, like the Osage Nation, have begun to open gaming operations with some restrictions. 

The House of Representatives is expected to pass a new $3 trillion coronavirus aid bill on Friday, but Republican senators, including Inhofe, have signalled that the bill would not pass the Senate.