Tribal Sovereignty Upheld

Akiak, Mountain Village and St. Paul, Alaska – Today (September 25th, 2020) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld tribal sovereignty and ruled in favor of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments in the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al., v. Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, et al. decision.

The court’s opinion states, “For these reasons, an ANC (Alaska Native corporation – regional and village) cannot qualify as an “Indian tribe” under ISDA unless it has been “recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians.”

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 2018 Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans Report, states, 

“In exchange for the surrender and reduction of tribal lands and removal and resettlement … the U.S. passed laws that define the special government-to-government relationship between federal and tribal governments … Yet the U.S. government…has not provided adequate assistance to support Native American infrastructure, self-governance, housing, education, health and economic development needs.”

“We humbly commend this decision amidst the chaos that the pandemic of COVID-19 has caused in our Native villages and tribal communities across the nation. We continue to focus our attention as local government leaders responsible for protecting and caring for our people.  Tribal governments will use CARES Act funds to prevent further loss of life due to COVID-19,” said Mike Williams, Chief, Akiak Native Community.

“We believe that we are stronger working together to address the needs of our tribal and community members, and we will continue to work with our Alaska Native Corporations and nonprofit organizations towards this end. The continued recognition of tribal sovereignty is a win for all Alaska Natives. ” said Amos Philemonoff, President, Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government.