Federal Grants for Tribes

There are a variety of federal financial assistance opportunities specifically for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

If you are a member of a Native American tribal entity searching for federal grants or benefits, you probably fall into one of three situations:

  1. You are searching for federal grants or benefits on behalf of a federally-recognized Native American tribal government.
  2. You are searching for federal grants or benefits on behalf of a Native American tribal organization that is not a federally-recognized government.
  3. You are searching for personal assistance or benefits.

If one of the first two situations applies to you, you can begin by looking for relevant federal grant opportunities using the Grants.gov Search page. If you are searching for personal assistance or benefits, we go over that below as well.

There are way too many search results. How do I narrow them down?

In addition to a keyword, such as “education,” check the box(es) next to Native American tribal governments and/or Native American tribal organizations under the Eligibility criteria heading. See the screenshot below for an example; we’ve highlighted the two Eligibility criteria you may select:

When you search by keyword, only grants open to Native American tribal governments and/or organizations will appear in the search results if the boxes are checked.

When you find a grant that might be suitable for your government or organization, carefully read the grant’s synopsis to learn more about the opportunity. Note that some federal grants will be open both to American Indian and Alaska Native groups and to other eligibility groups, such as nonprofits and public (including Indian) housing authorities.

Are there any other federal websites that post grant opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives?

The website NativeOneStop.gov also posts grant opportunities, which can be found using the keyword search feature. Please note, however, that NativeOneStop.gov and its Resource Finder tool are designed for individuals, rather than organizations. So Grants.gov is your best bet for finding grants for organizations.

I’m looking for a grant that will benefit me personally.

You’re not alone. Many people come to Grants.gov looking for personal grants and benefits that will help them pay their bills, access medical treatment, or repair their home—none of which Grants.gov offers.

Grants.gov only posts grant opportunities designed to benefit the public at large. Instead, you will want to visit federal government websites that focus on serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families.

OK, so where do I start searching for personal federal assistance?

Your first stop should be NativeOneStop.gov (mentioned above), where you can use the Resource Finder wizard to compile a list of resources that you or a family member may be eligible to receive.

The website also lists resources by category, which include education, food, employment, loans, the environment, and youth.

Your second stop can be USA.gov’s resource portal for federally recognized Indian Tribes and Native Americans. On this page, you will find a link to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Housing Improvement Program, which “provides home repair, renovation, replacement, and new housing grants.”

Another key federal website that we’ve mentioned before in the Exploring Eligibility blog series is Benefits.gov.

Federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) tribal members may be eligible for cash assistance, as outlined on Benefits.gov’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) program page:

Cash assistance to meet essential needs of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities. Additionally, each General Assistance recipient must work with a social services worker to develop and sign an Individual Self Sufficiency Plan (ISP) to meet the goal of employment. The plan must outline specific steps the individual will take to increase independence.

Another important resource at Benefits.gov is the Benefit Finder tool. This is a wizard that will walk an individual user through a series of screens to determine which, if any, federal benefits he or she is eligible for.

When you get to the General screen in the Benefit Finder, be sure to check that you are Native American or American Indian. See the orange arrow in the screenshot below:

Federal Assistance for Native Entrepreneurs

The U.S Department of the Interior’s Division of Capital Investment:

“Helping Guarantee the Economic Future of Indian Country”

Who are they?

The Division of Capital Investment manages the Indian Loan Guaranty, Insurance, and Interest Subsidy Program which breaks through the conventional barriers to financing for tribes and individual Indians. The loan program helps facilitate loan financing for borrowers that would not be able to do so otherwise. The Division helps secure reasonable interest rates and reduces risks for all parties involved. They bring lenders and borrowers together so that all may prosper.

What they do:
  • Facilitate access to capital
  • Help optimize resources
  • Form strategic partnerships
  • Provide outreach efforts
  • Foster entrepreneurship
  • Bring business opportunities to reservations

LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM SUCCESS STORIES
DCI BROCHURE
GUIDANCE FOR INDIVIDUAL BORROWER
GUIDANCE FOR THE TRIBE, TRIBAL ENTERPRISE,  OR INDIAN-OWNED BUSINESS AS BORROWER
GUIDANCE FOR LENDERS
FEDERAL LOAN PROGRAMS FOR ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGHOUT INDIAN COUNTRY AND ALASKA (LOAN MATRIX)
CONTACT SHEET
FORMS FOR THE LOAN GUARANTY, INSURANCE, AND INTEREST SUBSIDY PROGRAM

Forms shown here are to be completed by lending institutions. Borrowers are not required to complete any government forms to use this program.

Click here for the latest Indian Financing Act Rate

Federally Recognized Indian Tribes

The U.S. government officially recognizes more than 500 Indian tribes in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These federally recognized tribes are eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, either directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides contact information for each tribe’s Tribal Leader.

Cultural Resources for Native Americans

Historic Preservation

The National Tribal Preservation Program helps Indian tribes preserve and protect resources and traditions important to them. The program funds Tribal Heritage grants for federally recognized Indian tribes, to help them with cultural and historic preservation projects.

The program also funds Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, who:

  • Inventory tribal historic properties
  • Prepare and carry out a tribal-wide historic preservation plan
  • Assist federal agencies with reviewing undertakings on tribal lands​

When a federal agency reviews a project on tribal land, it must consult:

  • The Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (for federally recognized tribes), or
  • A designated representative (for non-federally recognized tribes).

Federal agencies also must consult with Indian tribes that attach religious and cultural significance to historic properties, no matter where the properties are.

Archeology

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act:

  • Requires federal agencies and museums to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections
  • Requires federal agencies and museums to consult with federally recognized Indian tribes on the return of those objects to descendants, tribes, or organizations
  • Authorizes grants to assist Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, and museums to document and return human remains and cultural objects to their native people

As part of its archeology program, the National Park Service collaborates with tribes, interprets the past to visitors, and protects archeological sites.

The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation assists tribes with critical historic preservation issues, as does the nonprofit National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.

Other Cultural Resources

Housing Help For Native Americans

If you are looking for housing help, contact the following offices for assistance:

You may also locate your state housing counseling agency or call 1-800-569-4287 to locate the agency nearest you.

Native American Housing Programs