American Indian tribes in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah stand to receive nearly half of a $500 million allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last month that the Bureau of Indian Affairs will fund

$500 million in new school and housing construction, road and bridge improvements and work force development projects for tribes across the nation.

The funding also will provide federally guaranteed loans for American Indian-owned businesses.

Of the $500 million, more than $235 million is allocated for local tribes: $170 million for tribal projects in Arizona, $25 million in New Mexico and $3 million in Utah.

The nation's 562 federally recognized tribes were instructed to apply for stimulus funds earlier this year. The $500 million is a chunk of an estimated $2.6 billion up for grabs among American Indian tribes.

Michael Wero, spokes-man for the Navajo Nation's Washington, D.C., office, said Congress worded the recovery bill so money would be spent quickly, stimulating the economy. Only projects that are "shovel-ready" stood a chance of receiving funding, he said.

Projects funded on tribal land nationwide include

$19 million for housing improvement, $5.7 million for workforce training, $13.3 million for on-the-job maintenance training, $142.5 million for road maintenance, $134.6 million for school construction, $143.1 million for school repairs, $7.3 million for detention center maintenance and $9.5 million for the Indian Affairs Loan Guarantee Program.

Like the rest of the funding from the stimulus package, money spent on tribal lands will be subject to transparency and public scrutiny.

About $25 million of the $500 million was set aside for administrative costs associated with contracting, awarding, tracking, monitoring, reporting and oversight of expenditures, according to a news release from the Navajo Nation's Washington, D.C., office.

Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of stimulus funds. The public is invited to follow the progress of each project at www.recovery.gov or www. interior.gov/recovery.

Alysa Landry:

alandry@daily-times.com