U.S. Supreme Court upholds federal promise to Alaska Natives

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today affirms the critical importance of our nation’s support for Alaska Natives, many of whom live in remote, rugged environments with limited infrastructure and services, including healthcare. Alaska Native communities face longstanding vulnerabilities that worsen their coronavirus risk, and Alaska Native Corporations are uniquely positioned to assist them. 

At Sealaska, we have been working in close coordination with our tribes to support our Alaska Native people and rural communities throughout the pandemic crisis. Prior to the introduction of the CARES Act, Sealaska committed to making $1 million available to help with immediate COVID-19 relief for shareholder families and neighbors. (Our total COVID relief funding expenditure in 2020 was $1.43 million.) CARES Act funding, despite the extensive delays caused by unfortunate litigation, will further these efforts.  

“Sealaska applauds the work of Alaska’s congressional delegation, the State of Alaska, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Regional Association and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association for their support of our Alaska Native people throughout this litigation,” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. “We are committed to continuing to work cooperatively with Indian Country to serve the best interest of our Indigenous people.” 

We support relief funding for all vulnerable populations, particularly indigenous communities across the nation. We respect the sovereignty of our tribes and have deep appreciation for the role our tribes played in serving our people during the pandemic. We applaud Congress for taking the crucial step to offer aid in this time of profound crisis. We hope that all of our shareholders, tribal citizens and communities stay safe, and we will continue to do our part to help during this difficult time. 

Background information: 

  • Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) have long been recognized as Indian tribes in certain federal statutes and programs, and again in the CARES Act.
  • CARES Act funding cannot be used for typical corporate purposes, as all funds must be tied to the impacts of COVID-19 
  • CARES Act funds cannot be used to replace lost revenues 
  • The funds are for necessary actions taken to respond directly to the public health emergency of COVID 
  • ANCs will be involved as a vehicle to support Alaska Native people 
  • In Alaska, the federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Corporations must work together to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of Alaska Native people.

Reference Sealaska’s original statement on the CARES Act here.  

 

 

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