Memorandum from Chief Barnes Regarding Tribe’s CARES Lawsuit


TO:  Shawnee Citizens & Employees

FROM:  The Office of Chief Benjamin J. Barnes

RE:  CARES Funding Lawsuit

Hato sawanoleniki. It has been a long year getting here, but the Shawnee Tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury is finally coming to an end—not because we are receiving full justice in our case, but we’ve come to an agreement because of timing. We are to receive less than half of the amount outlined in our claims, but we feel that we are better off making the most of this offer, given the short time we have to make use of these funds.

Because of our lawsuit and our success at the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Treasury Department decided to reallocate some of the remaining CARES Act funds using certified tribal enrollment data, which finally acknowledges that the Shawnee Tribe has over 3,000 tribal members and not ZERO.

The Shawnee Tribe Business Council unanimously agreed to accept the funding reallocated to the Shawnee Tribe, which will resolve the claims brought by the Tribe in this litigation. We expect to receive those funds sometime this week.

On the surface, it may look as though the Shawnee Tribe has “won.” But the reality is this:

  1. Shawnee people have been unable to access their fair share of coronavirus relief funding for an entire year.
  2. Our government only has until December 31, 2021, to utilize all CARES funding.

In principle, my office would prefer to continue fighting this suit for our Tribe, but to do so would continue to prolong our people’s long-overdue relief from the pandemic.

The Business Council will be working quickly to deliver a transparent plan for the funding the Tribe receives, and Shawnee citizens can expect more information soon. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Niyaawe.

To view or download a PDF of this memorandum, tap or click here.


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