Alaska Delegation: Treasury to Disburse $4.8 Billion to Tribes
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young (all R-Alaska) today released the following statements after the U.S. Department of Treasury announced it will disburse 60 percent of the $8 billion set-aside for tribal assistance appropriated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to the formula released by Treasury, $4.8 billion will be distributed among tribes based on population size, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grant formula. The remaining 40 percent will be distributed based on tribal employment size and expenses incurred in COVID-19 response. Calculations for Alaska Native regional and village corporations, as created by Congress in 1971 through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in lieu of the reservation model that prevails in the Lower 48, are pending until their eligibility is resolved. Exact payment amounts will be determined at a later date.
“A historic level of financial relief is on its way to help Indigenous people across the nation fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked hard to ensure there was a tribal set-aside in the CARES Act, so I’m pleased to see that much of that money will soon reach communities to cover COVID related expenses. We also ensured that the unique arrangement for Alaskan tribal communities established by Congress—which includes tribes, tribal consortia, and Alaska Native Corporations—was recognized to ensure a full response to this pandemic. I’m disappointed that our significant success in delivering critical resources to Native Americans and Alaska Natives is mired in conflict, negativity, and unfounded personal attacks,” said Senator Murkowski. “We should be using our time and energy to come together, find common ground, and focus on the task at hand—responding to this public health emergency.”
“Like the resources in the CARES Act sent to individuals, families, hospitals, community health centers, small businesses, our fishing communities, and the state of Alaska, this important funding for Alaska Native and American Indian communities—who have a long history of being particularly vulnerable to viruses and pandemics—was an important part of the work done by our congressional delegation,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “I was very disappointed to see, however, that a single federal district judge in Washington, D.C. took it upon himself to ignore the clear language of Congress, and guidance of the Trump administration, in an opinion that has caused delay and confusion on how this funding will be sent to different communities, particularly Alaska Native communities in our state. I will continue to closely monitor the resolution of this unfortunate ligation and delay.”
“While drafting the CARES Act, Congress worked hard to ensure that our Alaska Native and American Indian communities received the support they need to get through this pandemic,” said Congressman Don Young. It was imperative to us that all of our nation’s Indigenous communities qualified for aid, which is why a comprehensive definition of “tribe” was used in the legislation. Alaska is unique; our Native people are served in a multitude of ways by Alaska Native Corporations, tribes, and tribal consortia – and the CARES Act funding reflects this. While I am pleased to see this initial funding released, it is a shame that conflict and infighting have delayed the full disbursement of funds. I will keep working with the Alaska Delegation, the Administration, tribes from across our country, and ANCs to ensure that the remaining funds are distributed equitably and fairly.”