Navajo Nation ARPA hardship assistance checks focus on tribal members under 60

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Now that the Navajo Nation controller's office has issued ARPA hardship assistance checks to older tribal members, attention is turning to releasing checks to tribal members under 60 and previously received hardship assistance in 2020 or in 2021.

"The next phase will be the printing of checks for previous hardship assistance recipients below the age of 60 years, with the exception of new applicants and individuals that have outstanding issues such as changes to their mailing address," states an update released by the tribal president's office.

Acting Controller Elizabeth Begay said employees have been working weekends and holidays to expedite the process in addition to their normal duties.

"We understand that many families are in need of financial relief and we are working as quickly as possible," Begay said, then extended appreciation to employees.

Elizabeth Begay

The update also states that the controller's office has been receiving questions about checks sent to persons who have died.

Checks issued to a deceased person under the ARPA hardship assistance or in the amount of $342 from reallocated CARES Act funding should be returned to the controller's office.

"If they can provide a copy of the death certificate, that would be great. Otherwise, they can indicate that the recipient of CARES or ARPA hardship assistance is deceased," Begay wrote in response to The Daily Times follow-up question about returning checks.

Checks may be returned by mail to the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller, PO Box 3150, Window Rock, AZ 86515.

Navajo leaders approved using part of the funds allotted to the tribe in the American Rescue Plan to help enrolled tribal members struggling to cover living expenses because of the pandemic.

The controller's office started mailing checks this month with priority given to tribal members aged 60 and over.

"With hardship assistance checks going out to our elders, it's very unfortunate and disheartening to receive reports of elders being mistreated by their own family members," tribal President Jonathan Nez said in the release.

He continued, "the hardship assistance funds are intended to help everyone during this pandemic, especially our elderly parents and grandparents. Our teachings tell us to honor, love and respect our elders. Please have respect for your elders and help them just as they've helped us in so many ways."

The controller's office continues to accept applications from enrolled tribal members who did not apply for assistance in 2020 or 2021.

Information about the assistance and the application is available at the controller's office website, www.nnooc.org. Dec. 30 is the deadline to apply.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.