FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A judge has ruled in favor of tribal nations in their bid to keep Alaska Native corporations from getting a share of $8 billion in coronavirus relief funding — at least for now.
In a decision issued late Monday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., said the U.S. Treasury Department could begin disbursing funding to 574 federally recognized tribes to respond to the coronavirus but not to the corporations.
The ruling comes in a case brought by at least 15 tribes against the Treasury Department. The tribes allege that Congress intended the funding to go only to tribal governments and that the corporations don’t fit within the definition of “Indian Tribe” in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Mehta said the tribes easily showed they would suffer irreparable harm unless he limited the funding temporarily to tribal governments while he awaited more argument on the question of eligibility of Alaska Native corporations.