The Choctaw Nation is giving its members $2,000 apiece in universal basic income from stimulus funds. Other tribes are trying similar things.

Maritza Garcia of the Choctaw Mississippi Tribe performed an Ojibwe traditional dance in a ceremony outside of the Field Museum on October 26, 2018. Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
A few Native American tribes have used federal pandemic assistance for new rounds in stimulus payments.

Last week, the Choctaw Nation announced that it would pay $2,000 to adult members in the next two-years.

These payments will extend the universal basic income experiment, which began in 2020 with the first relief checks.

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Stimulus checks continue to roll in across a few Native American tribes.

Last week, the Choctaw Nation declared that it would use funds from the American Rescue Plan in order to send additional relief payments. This is essentially a fourth round of stimulus checks for its members. The Choctaw Nation isn’t the only tribe that sent out a fourth round. At least three other tribes announced similar payment programs.

These payments are essentially a new experiment in universal basic income. The tribe believes that broad financial support will be more beneficial to its members than using federal funds to fund specific relief programs such as unemployment benefits.

According to a press release, Choctaw members 18-54 can receive $1,000 per year for two years beginning next month. Those younger than 18 can receive a $700 annual payment for two years. On August 16, members 55+ and persons with disabilities aged 18-54 began receiving $200 monthly allowances.

A spokesperson for Bloomberg said that the cost of the collection of programs would be $627 million over two-years. This is just half the $1.1 billion ARP gave the Choctaw Nation. The March stimulus package provided $20 billion for tribal governments.

These payments are similar to those that were sent three times before to most Americans via a series stimulus packages. In that the relief checks covered daily expenses for many people who were harmed due to circumstances beyond their control, they quickly became a test of UBI. These checks are also very popular and have led some areas to increase their testing for UBI.

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Stimulus check 4.0

Similar relief payments have been made by other Native American tribes in recent weeks. On August 4, the Osage Nation announced that it would send $2,000 to members who were affected by the virus's economic downturn. All members of the Cherokee Nation are eligible for $2,000 in one-time payments, regardless of their age or whereabouts.

The Navajo Nation will extend the payment program established by the CARES Act of 2020, with funds from ARP. All Navajo members affected by the pandemic will be eligible to apply.

In times of economic decline, stimulus checks may be the best option. This is evident from the continued use of relief payment. The University of Michigan conducted an analysis of the effectiveness of the payments and found that they significantly reduced food insecurity as well as financial instability during the pandemic. After each wave of stimulus checks, consumer spending increased by a significant amount.

Some are wondering if a fourth round could be approved after the recent spike in Delta cases. Already, the economic recovery has been slowed by the virus's resurgence. Parents still receive support through the child tax credit, but the monthly payments are significantly lower than the $1,400 checks approved for March.

However, there are very low chances of additional checks. In May, the White House remained silent on the subject. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, stated that Congress would make the final decision. She added that the payments were not free.

Direct payments are still available in a few Native American tribes. As the Delta wave continues to intensify, the nations may be one step ahead of the rest in bracing themselves for further economic destruction.

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