Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > ANCSA Regional Association and Alaska Native Village Corporation Association
Posted: October 22, 2020

Indianz.Com Video: D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Steven Mnuchin – September 11, 2020

The ANCSA Regional Association and Alaska Native Village Corporation Association released the following statement in connection with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled that Alaska Native corporations are not entitled to shares of the money because they are not sovereign tribal governments.

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The ANCSA Regional Association and Alaska Native Village Corporation Association vowed that we would continue to fight for the critical relief assistance our people need to survive this pandemic. Today, as we file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, we have made good on that promise to our Alaska Native brothers and sisters.

If left to stand, the lower court’s decision would prove devastating for our rural communities, who, in the onset of winter in Alaska, are facing extreme difficulties combating the virus. Because of the tribal enrollment structure in Alaska, the decision also means that tens of thousands of Alaska Natives will not receive any federal emergency assistance at all.

The lower court’s decision also undoes nearly five decades of legal precedent treating Alaska Natives and Native Americans in the lower 48 fairly and equally. When Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971 it mandated that ‘Alaska Natives shall remain eligible for all Federal Indian programs on the same basis as other Native Americans.’ Furthermore, the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) definition of ‘Indian tribe’ has always been understood to authorize ANC participation. Congress carefully worded of Title V of the CARES Act to mirror ISDEAA, making it clear that it intended to render ANCs eligible for CARES Act relief funds.

Alaska Native people should not be punished for the unique system that Congress established through ANCSA. Nor should they be denied critical aid because of misguided statutory construction. We believe the previous decision fully merits the Supreme Court’s plenary review, and we look forward to making our case in front of the Court.

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