The E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse houses both the federal court for the District of Columbia and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

A federal judge on June 26, 2020, sided with the Trump administration, holding that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for shares of the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund.

The 36-page ruling is a major win for the for-profit entities. They stand to gain about $533 million from the fund. The money has been set aside by the Department of the Treasury during the litigation.

The decision rejects claims made by federally recognized Indian nations, which asserted that the corporations did not qualify for shares because they are not “tribal governments.”

“The court’s decision simply recognizes that ANCs are eligible for CARES Act funds, as Congress intended—no more, no less,” Judge Amit P. Mehta wrote, responding to tribal concerns about the erosion of their sovereignty.

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