NEW BREW – Zach Anderson stands at the bar of the recently opened Harbor Mountain Brewing Company Tuesday afternoon. The brew pub, on the site of the former Baranof Island Brewery, is open Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Alaska Native Groups Lose Virus Aid Ruling

By FELICIA FONSECA
 
The Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — 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. 

“These are monies that Congress appropriated on an emergency basis to assist tribal governments in providing core public services to battle a pandemic that is ravaging the nation, including in Indian Country,” Mehta said.

The Treasury Department and the U.S. Justice Department representing the Treasury did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Justice Department attorney Jason Lynch had argued that the Treasury Department’s decision to include Alaska Native corporations wasn’t subject to judicial review because the funding is for a public health emergency. Mehta rejected the argument. 

The Treasury Department has said it could start sending payments to tribes Tuesday — two days past the deadline in the coronavirus relief bill. But it has not said how it would determine who gets what. 

Harry Pickernell, Sr., the chairman of the lead plaintiff tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation in Washington state, said he was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“This ruling will help tribal governments to lead in the aid and recovery of their people,” he said in a statement.

Alaska Native corporations are unique to Alaska and own most of the Native land in the state under a 1971 settlement known as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Mehta said neither the corporations nor the Treasury Department showed the corporations are providing public services comparable to the tribes to combat the coronavirus.

The corporations, which are not parties to the lawsuit, have said they support Alaska Natives economically, socially and culturally. 

Two associations representing some of the corporations — the ANCSA Regional Association and the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association — said they believe the corporations ultimately will be deemed eligible for funding. 

“This will mean a delay in necessary resources and economic assistance for Alaska Native people in our communities and our state,” the groups said. “However, Alaska Native people have a history of resilience and strength. Together we will prevent the spread of COVID-19, care for those who get sick, and repair our economies.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death. The vast majority of people recover.

 

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

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– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-5-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 56

Total statewide – 3,449

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 19 (14 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 137.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

Dan and Betty Keck were married 50 years ago and friends are invited to help celebrate. ... They were married at the Church of Christ in Pateros, Wash., and in 1960 loaded up their station wagon, drove to Seattle, flew to Annette Island and on to Sitka. ... They owned The Cellar from 1976 to 1995. Dan was on the Assembly and served as mayor. ...

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Sitka Purse Seiners Association has endorsed Larry Carr for governor, according to Al Perkins, chairman of the local organization. He said the organization of about 50 members backs Carr for his position on fishing.

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