Starting this month, Cherokee Nation citizens can sign up for thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief money.
While about half of the tribe has already signed up for the relief money using an online portal, the Cherokee Nation held a drive-thru event Monday in Vinita to help people sign up in person. Cherokee citizens lined up at the Craig County Fairgrounds to get signed up on the new Gadugi portal where they can apply for the money.
"Overall, it's been very, very helpful, quite a blessing," said Pearlie Carney.
Pearlie and Stephon Carney were among several people there to get help. They said they're grateful for everything the Cherokee Nation does and are excited about the COVID-10 relief money.
"Especially when you're living on social security, in my case, and doctor bills and medications and all that kind of good stuff I have to buy," said Carney.
The money comes from a $1.8 billion COVID-19 recovery fund through the "American Rescue Plan Act." Every citizen will get $2,000.
"These dollars really do help not only Cherokees, but the communities in which they live and that creates jobs, it creates economic vitality that we think we can harness to even greater prosperity for the Cherokee people,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Hoskin said almost 200,000 people have already applied for the money. These drive-thru events are designed to reach older citizens who may not have access to a computer or have trouble using one.
"We certainly want to be of service to Cherokees as much as we can wherever they are to the greatest extent possible," Hoskin said.
Chief Hoskin said citizens have until June 2022 to apply for the money. That also includes people who become citizens in that time.
The Cherokee Nation will have similar drive-thru events like this in the coming weeks in Tahlequah, Warner, and Bartlesville. To get more information about those, the Cherokee Nation said to follow its Facebook page here or check its website here.
This story has been corrected to show that the $2,000 will be distributed at once instead of $1,000 each year over two years.