US Supreme Court Decides Alaska Native Corporations are "Indian tribes" for purposes of CARES Act Funds and Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act Contracts
June 25, 2021
(Anchorage, AK) – The U.S. Supreme Court held today that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) are eligible for Title V CARES Act relief funds. In interpreting the CARES Act, the Court construed the term "Indian tribes" as defined in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA). The CARES Act makes funding eligible for "Indian tribes" as defined under ISDA.
The decision means that CARES Act funds will be distributed to both ANCs and federally recognized tribes in Alaska. Many Alaska Natives rely on their ANCs rather than their federally recognized tribes to provide services. Some Alaska Natives belong only to ANCs and not also to federally recognized tribes. This decision is critical because it means that all Alaska Natives will receive the benefits of CARES Act funding.
The decision also maintains the status quo for ISDA contracting, allowing ANCs to continue to act as "Indian tribes" under that statute as they have done for decades.
"This decision means Alaska Native corporations will be treated fairly when it comes to accessing federal Cares Act funding," said Governor Mike Dunleavy. "We applaud the court's balanced and even-handed ruling regarding economic relief funding to these entities."
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Department Media Contact: Assistant Attorney General Grace Lee.