On September 25, 2020, the D.C. Circuit delivered a major victory to the Indian tribe plaintiffs in the case of Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin (Case No. 20-4205). (Rothstein Donatelli represents the Pueblo of Picuris and is co-counsel with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice for the Navajo Nation, both of which are plaintiffs in the case.) The panel ruled that COVID relief funds designated for “Indian tribes” under the CARES Act could not be distributed to Alaska native corporations, which are for-profit corporations in Alaska. The decision is available here.
As a result of this ruling, the hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief funds that the Treasury Department has set aside for Alaska native corporations are required instead to be distributed to federally-recognized Indian tribes. This is a tremendous victory that could benefit federally-recognized tribes throughout the country. The Treasury Department will determine how these funds are allocated and is required under the CARES Act to distribute the funds by September 30, 2020, although further litigation is possible.
Further coverage of the decision can be found here: