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Posted: April 13, 2020

An Inupiaq language welcome sign in Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, Alaska. Photo: Bob Johnston

The Department of the Treasury on the afternoon of April 13, 2020, launched a CARES Act portal with new information about the $8 billion tribal relief fund.

According to Treasury, Alaska Native corporations are eligible to apply for a share of the coronavirus relief fund. Tribes in the lower 48 have strongly contested the inclusion of such entities but a “certification” form indicates a decision has already been made.

With emphasis added, the form reads:

“‘Indian Tribe’ means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85 Stat. 688, 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.”

Further, tribal or Native leaders who submit the form must attest that the information they provide is accurate under penalty of federal prosecution. States and local governments are not required to do the same.

“Our State, local, and tribal partners across the country are facing unique challenges as they navigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a news release.  “As part of our whole-of-government approach, we have moved with unprecedented speed to get these funds to those who need them a week ahead of schedule.” 

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