Apparently some Cherokee Nation citizens have never heard that old saying about never looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin recently announced the tribe would be getting $1.8 billion as part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan Act. The funds are intended to help rebuild the economy in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. On the heels of that, tribal officials said each Cherokee Nation citizen would get $2,000 as part of the Respond, Recover and Rebuild program.
For anyone who holds membership in the Cherokee Nation - or for anyone else who resides on the 14-county reservation, for that matter - this would seem to be cause for celebration. But there was a fly in the ointment: The initial plan was to give each citizen $1,000 now, and $1,000 later. This didn't set well with a certain segment of the population, who demanded they receive payment in full, and without further ado.
On the Facebook timeline of the Tahlequah Daily Press as well as those of some tribal officials, the anger was manifest almost immediately. Wrote one purported citizen: "That's a bunch of BS! Why should we wait? I have four kids and we want our money NOW." He went on to add that he wanted a motorcycle. The frustration only escalated when the portal for pre-registration was overwhelmed with applicants. Dozens of emails, calls and private messages - again, to the newspaper and anyone else who might be deemed helpful - told a tale of entitlement.
For those who live in Indian Country - and especially those who are impartial observers - it's disheartening to see even a handful of Cherokee citizens behave like the population of America at large. These people who were demanding "their" money, and right away, seem to forget the Cherokee Nation itself was the recipient of these relief funds. Tribal officials didn't have to provide direct assistance to individuals, if they didn't want to. Indeed, much of the money, as outlined by the administration and tribal council, is allocated to a number of critical programs: education, commerce, health care, infrastructure and more. The full plan will unfold over the next three years.
Tribal officials did try to explain what happened to the portal, and they also responded to the requests for all the money to be allocated immediately, rather than in two installments. That's probably for the best, if for no other reason than it will silence a few detractors who would rather complain about something instead of rolling up their sleeves, and getting out there and doing something for their tribe.
Tribal citizens should be thanking their elected officials for understanding how important these funds will be to so many Cherokees who are truly hurting. Especially in rural areas, many families have been devastated by the pandemic, and a few thousand dollars can help them get back on the right track, even if it won't bring back lost loved ones.
Those who can't manage to practice a little gratitude ought to do everyone else a favor, and keep their rude comments to themselves.