Three Alaska tribes have joined lawsuit against the Treasury over $8B in Tribal funding

Akiak Native Community and two other Alaska Native Tribes joined in a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury over $8 billion in Tribal coronavirus relief funds in the CARES Act. The lawsuit objects to the eligibility of Alaska Native corporations for the Tribally allocated funding. (Photo by Greg Kim/KYUK)

Akiak Native Community, Asa’cararmiut Tribe and Aleut Community of St. Paul Island joined two other Tribal governments in the Lower 48 and filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over funding in the CARES Act.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent Alaska Native corporations from taking part in the $8 billion coronavirus relief fund – specifically allocated for Tribes.

The lawsuit names Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin  as the defendant. The Treasury is the agency responsible for allocating funds after consultation with Tribes and the Department of Interior.

The Tribal funding has been a sticking point with Tribes and Native organizations in the Lower 48. They say Alaska Native corporations should be excluded from eligibility because they are for-profit corporations – not governments.

That contention has also spilled into a fight between Tribes, Native organizations and the Department of Interior.

Tara Sweeney is Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs – and a former executive for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, an Alaska Native corporation.

Tribes say that Sweeney is intentionally diverting money to Native corporations and away from Lower 48 and Alaska Native Tribes.