Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Are Alaska Native corporations Indian tribes?


April 19, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Are Alaska Native corporations - special corporations that Congress created in 1971 when it resolved Native claims in Alaska - "Indian tribe[s]" under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act?

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear argument on that question in Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Immediately at stake in the answer is billions of dollars in federal CARES Act funding. But the outcome could also have longer-term consequences for how, and from whom, Alaskan Natives receive essential services.

First, some background. Just as, in McGirt v. Oklahoma last term, the court confronted the complex past of Oklahoma's Native nations, Chehalis turns on the unique legal history of Alaskan Natives. Though Alaska became part of the United States in 1867, the federal government only fitfully devoted attention to the status of the new territory's Indigenous peoples.


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