As the world faces a global pandemic, NANA stands in support of our shareholders, region, state and nation. Under the CARES Act, passed by Congress on March 25 and signed into law two days later, Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) are eligible for funding to help navigate the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
We are disheartened that there are those who oppose Alaska Native corporation inclusion in the CARES Act, arguing that ANCs are not included in the definition of “tribes” in the law. The CARES Act uses the definition established by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act – a definition that has stood for more than 40 years – that defines an “Indian Tribe” as “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.”
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young have all clearly stated, and the Departments of Treasury and the Interior have correctly interpreted, that Congress intended for Alaska Native corporations, on behalf of their Alaska Native shareholders, to be included in CARES Act tribal relief fund provisions. The D.C. District Court also agreed with this interpretation in June. It is disappointing to see necessary funds for Alaska Native communities delayed once again by Tuesday’s (July 7) court decision.
Like many Alaska Native corporations, NANA works in partnership with the tribes in our region. We do this to abide by our Iñupiat Iļitqusiat values that guide us to cooperate and share, and we believe that when we stand together as Indigenous peoples, we are stronger than when we are apart.
NANA and our fellow ANCs have contributed millions of dollars to our communities throughout this pandemic. Below are some of the ways NANA has provided support to shareholders during COVID-19:
- Pledged $100,000 in cleaning and sanitation supplies for every household in the NANA region (more than 2,050); coordinated inventory of supplies, quantities needed and distribution with tribes and cities in the region, as well as partners on the Northwest Arctic Leadership Team
- Funded $70,000 for Maniilaq Association’s Hardship Mitigation Project, which provides dry food and laundry supply deliveries to Elders, individuals with disabilities and those recovering from substance abuse in the NANA region
- Contributed $75,000 to fund care kits for Elders in the NANA region; kits include supplies that help Elders effectively self-monitor for coronavirus symptoms
- Pledged $20,000 to support KOTZ public radio, a vital communication outlet that reaches even the most remote villages and subsistence camps in our region
- Donated $10,000 to The Children’s Lunchbox, a Bean’s Café program that works to ensure no child goes hungry in Anchorage – a community in which many shareholders live
- Contributed $5,000 to Covenant House Alaska, a shelter for youth ages 13-20, who are facing homelessness and human trafficking
NANA continues to work with like-minded organizations to strengthen our state economies and support Alaska Native communities. For more information on CARES Act funding, visit ancsaregional.com/cares-act/.