by Savannah Maher, Wyoming Public Radio
Many tribal leaders are calling for Alaska Native Corporations (ANC) to be excluded from funding set aside for tribes in the CARES Act. Gerald Gray is Chairman of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa and the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council. He says ANCs for-profit corporation status should preclude them from accessing the $8 billion tribal stabilization fund.
“Alaska Native Corporations should not be getting any of the funding because they’re not tribes, Gray said. “We just basically don’t feel that it’s a good idea to be doing that.”
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leadership Council urged the U.S. Treasury Department to exclude ANCs from the emergency funding.
The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen Association went a step farther, calling for the removal of Tara Sweeney as Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. They say there’s a conflict of interest since she once worked for the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., one of the 13 ANCs.
But Shauna Hegna, President of Koniag, Inc., says Sweeney is simply following the law.
“Simply put, ANCs are eligible for funding under the CARES Act because we’re included in the law,” she said. “We’re gonna use the funding from the CARES Act to help our communities prepare and respond to COVID-19.
It’s not yet clear how the money will be divided up. The Alaska Resources Development Council lists the corporations’ combined annual revenue as at least $10.5 billion in 2018 and 2019.
Photo: Dept. of Interior Asst. Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney during a 2018 congressional hearing (Credit: Jared King, Navajo Nation Washington Office).