The Supreme Court rules that Alaska Native Corporations are federally recognized tribes in a Native COVID dispute.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that COVID-19 federal aid funds can go purpose-built corporations for Alaska Natives even though they are not officially recognized as tribal governments in a case that pits Native American groups against each other.
Judges say 6-3 that indigenous corporations are eligible to receive funding for tribal governments under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid Act, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act. About $ 533 million in funding depends on the outcome of the case.
Three groups of Native American tribes from other parts of the United States were sued in federal court in Washington in April 2020 seeking to prevent what are known as Alaska Native corporations (ANC) from receiving any of the funds.
Among the challengers were the Navajo Nation, the Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis Reserve and the Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River.
The Navajo Nation dealt with one of the largest outbreaks per capita last year. Tribal authorities have launched a distribution of vaccines countryside in December.
U $ 1.9 trillion CARES Act set $ 8 billion to be distributed to tribal governments, which were defined as the “governing body of an Indian tribe” based on the definition described in a 1975 federal law called the Indian Self-Determination and Assistance Act. to Education, which mentions Alaska corporations.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia District Court last year overturned the decision of a lower court that had favored the federal government and corporations, appealing to the Supreme Court, who heard arguments in April.
The 12 corporations were set up to help Alaskan Natives thrive after Alaska gained statehood in 1959. They have become successful and diversified businesses with interests in sectors such as oil and gas drilling, real estate and construction. In 2017, they had a combined revenue of $ 9.1 billion. Corporations also provide various social services to Alaska Natives.
The corporations were created under a 1971 federal law that sought to address land claims and provide the aforementioned economic benefits to Native Alaska without allocating land to tribal governments. Federal funding and land, including mineral rights, were given to the nine regional corporations.
This law also established separate Alaska Native village corporations on a smaller scale. Alaska Natives received stock in the established corporation where they lived.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan said in an April 2020 statement that “Alaska Native Corporations are for-profit entities that have billions of dollars in revenue, and can access other sources of funding in the CARES Act. The intent of Congress of these funds was to raise tribal governments. “
Writing for the court, liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision “affirms what the federal government has maintained for almost half a century: the ANC are Indian tribes.”
Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch they were united by liberal justice Elena Kagan in dissent.