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FIRST ON FOX: Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package have been donated to ‘underemployed/unemployed oral historians’ and their research related to anti-racism studies and Indigenous and “Latin” stories.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, which Democrats passed in March 2021 without any Republican support, was touted by the Democratic Party as an economic necessity to get the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which received $135 million from the plan, announced last October that it had allocated $87.8 million in ARP funds to “nearly 300 cultural and educational institutions for help recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, retain and rehire workers, and reopen sites, facilities and programs.”
However, many institutions received grants for projects that had little to do with post-pandemic recovery efforts.
The Oral History Association, for example, received $825,000 in ARP funds for a grant project titled “Diversifying Oral History Practice: A Fellowship Program for Under/Unemployed Oral Historians,” which provided eleven scholarships from a year of $60,000 each for the oral arts. historians “from historically marginalized communities in the field”, such as “Indigenous peoples, people of color, people with disabilities, and working class people”.
Among the recipients of the $60,000 grants was Elizabeth “Beth” Castle, a “Shawnee-born anti-racism educator,” to create “A Collaborative Oral History of the Fight Against Mineral and Uranium Mining in the Black Hills , the origins of the global Indigenous movement, and the ongoing struggle to protect the people who protect Mother Earth.”
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Another recipient of a $60,000 grant included oral historian Virginia Espino for her project exploring the “intimate histories of working-class Latinx, Afro-Latinx, and Indigenous peoples in Los Angeles with the goal of retrieving and record the rebellious experiences and ideas that inform ordinary women’s lives that are invisible when not stereotyped.”
Queer Indigenous Librarian/Archivist Colette Denali Montoya-Sloan received a $60,000 grant to develop an oral history of the “collective emotional, intellectual, and spiritual experience of creation” of the new Visitor Contact Station at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine.
The Oral History Association has already received $50,000 in ARP funds to maintain staff positions during the COVID-19 pandemic and to publish oral histories on the web. It is just one of dozens of cultural and educational institutions that have received millions of ARP funds from the NEH for programs that promote social and climate justice.
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For example, the NEH awarded $50,000 in ARP funds to a Northern Mariana Islands nonprofit called 500 Sails to “reopen programs that teach native canoe building and explore pre-colonial sea life.”
The NEH also awarded $471,905 in ARP funds to the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh for the “continuing development” of an existing exhibit on ancient Egypt, and the Science History Institute of Philadelphia received $359,097 from the NEH to create a “multi-platform project exploring the history, roots and enduring legacies of racism in American science and medicine.”
Just before signing the ARP in March 2021, Biden described every allocation of funds in the legislation as essential.
“We need Congress to pass my US bailout plan which addresses the immediate crisis – the emergency,” the president said at the time. “Now the critics are saying my plan is too big, it’s $1.9 trillion. So that’s too much. Well, let me ask them: what would they make me cut? What would they make me omit?
Today, the US bailout is coming under increasing scrutiny for its effects on the US economy. Inflation hit 8.6% in May, and some economists, including former Obama administration economic advisers, have blamed the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package for overheating the economy. .
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Jay Greene, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called the allocation of public funds “unreasonable”.
“It is unconscionable that the federal government is taking nearly a million dollars from hard-working taxpayers for the NEH to return this money to ‘marginalized oral historians… under/unemployed,’” Greene said in a statement provided to Fox. NewsDigital. “No one was willing to voluntarily pay for these oral historians, so there’s no reason for federal bureaucrats to decide it’s a better use of the money than allowing taxpayers to keep it to pay for the increased cost of gas, rent and groceries.”
NEH did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.