US position on tribal relief funds sets up court battle

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2020, file photo, a woman walks before dawn in Toksook Bay, Alaska, a mostly Yuip’ik village on the edge of the Bering Sea. Native American leaders are raising questions about how $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief tagged for tribes will be distributed, with some arguing that for-profit Alaska Native corporations shouldn’t get a share of the funding. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department has taken the stance that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share of $8 billion in coronavirus relief funding for tribes.

The position outlined in court documents Thursday sets the stage for a court battle.

More than a dozen tribes have sued the federal government to try to keep the money out of the hands of the corporations.

They contend it should go only to tribes that have a government-to-government relationship with the United States. The Treasury Department says a plain reading of the CARES Act makes the corporations eligible.

None of the funding for tribes has been distributed.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. Material may not be redistributed.


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