looks at how that data is producing winners and losers in Indian Country. The bottom line is that Housing data is “clearly not reflective of tribal citizens or tribal needs,” says the study by researchers Randall K.Q. Akee, Eric C. Henson, Miriam R. Jorgensen and Joseph P. Kalt. The housing formula “produces arbitrary and capricious allocations of CARES Act funds across tribes.”
The better alternative: Use tribal enrollment data. The study said: “the case is strong that an appropriate allocation rule would employ the current tribal enrollment figures submitted by tribes to the Treasury Department in mid‐April.”
Some of that data was leaked and that means there is a public test that can track both the formula and the fairness of that allocation.
And, as the study points out, this creates an “inequity” because some tribes are under-represented in the funding while others come out ahead. This creates “conditions that are ripe for extensive and intensive challenges and even litigation.”
One lesson from the pandemic. Indian Country needs a better way to collect and maintain data. We need a better gauge of what we have and what’s needed. Data is much more than a measurement; it’s a method of setting priorities.
Then this is not new. Think about how data collection has always been a part of the people’s story. We counted on buffalo robes, on belts, or in carvings. The data always has helped tell a larger story.