Some Native American tribes have seen high infection rates from COVID-19. And the COVID-19 pandemic has also stalled one of the primary economic engines for tribes. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of tribal casinos have closed their doors. For tribes like the Northern Arapaho, that means an abrupt interruption of revenue that funds vital social services. And unlike state and local governments, tribes don’t have a tax base to fall back on.
Joseph Kalt, with The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, says that without sufficient federal aid, casino closures could set tribal economies back decades and have a catastrophic impact on reservation life. It also means social services are at risk just when they’re needed most to help combat COVID-19.
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