CARNEGIE — The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma has been approved for $1.1 million in relief funds made available under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Tribe Chairman Matthew Komalty made the announcement Thursday.

“The Kiowa Tribe received good news today when notified of the approval of a loan that is forgivable under the CARES Act 2020 (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act),” he said. “Loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are forgivable if the recipient satisfies certain requirements which include stabilizing and maintaining its existing workforce.”

Employing over 160 employees in Carnegie, Anadarko, Lawton and Chickasha, the Kiowa Tribe is one of the first of the local tribes in Caddo County to qualify for the loan program, according to Neely Tsoodle, tribe information officer. The PPP provides critical support to millions of small businesses and tens of millions of hardworking Americans.

Komalty said the news is a welcomed relief for the tribe and will greatly assist getting through the many economic, health, and social challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“This program will help us stabilize our operations,” he said. “The closure of our casinos has affected us tremendously, and this program brings us one step closer to help us ease the pain of lost revenues.”

According to PPP protocols, the tribe must use the money towards payroll costs and cover certain utility payments and other expenditures allowed by the program. The tribe is required to use the funding during an eight-week period that starts with the first disbursement of the funds from the bank. At a minimum, 75 percent of the funds must be applied to payroll costs. The loan will be forgiven if the tribe manages the funds properly and the debt will be canceled in the form of a grant.

Overall, $8 billion was reserved for Indian Tribes and Tribal enterprises, according to the CARES Act protocols. The CARES Act also provides tribes and the Indian Health Services (IHS) with $15 million in emergency supplemental funding through the Public Health and Social Service Emergency Funds, along with over $1 billion to IHS in flexible emergency supplemental funding that can be used to obtain personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

The funding is a result of great collaboration by Executive Branch staff and the Executive Branch’s attorney and required close coordination with the tribe’s banker, John Allen of Community Bank in Chickasha, according to Tsoodle.

“The application process was extremely time sensitive to get in place, and in the queue with thousands of other applications being filed throughout the country,” she said. “The money is made available under the program disappears quickly and leaves many entities disappointed.”

Komalty called it a “good day for the Kiowa people” as leadership continues to achieve financial security while working to address the many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a good example of reacting quickly to an ever-changing environment for the benefit of our people,” he said. “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with the quality of staff that support me and Madame Vice Chair Rhonda Ahhaitty as we counter the effects of the crisis.”

Komalty said the PPP would also allow the tribe to bring the 18 furloughed employees back to work.

The Kiowa Tribe issued a state of emergency on March 17. Two tribal employees have since tested positive for the virus after remaining on the job during the shutdown of most tribal programs that followed.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

Written by Scott Rains: scott.rains@swoknews.com.

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