NAVAJO NATION (KRQE) – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer have announced that the Navajo Nation is joining 10 other tribes in a lawsuit against the United States Secretary of the Treasury over federal COVID-19 funding.
While Congress has allocated $8 billion to assist tribal governments during the pandemic under the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the Nation states that the Secretary of the Treasury plans to fund over 230 Alaska Native Corporations with the money. The Navajo Nation reports that Alaska Native Corporations are for-profit organizations under state law and are owned by shareholders and include those that are non-Indians.
The 12 regional Alaska Native Corporations reportedly have over 138,000 shareholders, employ over 43,000 individuals worldwide, and in 2018, generated over $10.5 billion in revenues.
“Allocating funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to the Alaska Native Corporations will severely impact the Navajo Nation’s ability to fight COVID-19, and will impact every other tribe as well,”said President Nez in a statement. “While the Secretary has not yet announced a formula to disburse the funds, including the Alaska Native Corporations in the calculation, will reduce the funds available for tribal governments. The impact on the Navajo Nation will be significant because of the Nation’s size, population, and the already disparate impact of COVID-19 on the Nation.
The Nation has already opposed CARES Act funding for the Alaska Native Corporations and has demanded answers from the Department of Interior as well as the Department of Treasury as to why they were included.