FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Native American leaders are raising questions about how $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief for tribes will be distributed.
Some say for-profit Alaska Native corporations shouldn't receive a share because the corporations are not tribal governments.
Tribes are relying on the infusion of cash after having to shut down casinos, tourism operations and other businesses that serve as their main moneymakers.
Members of Congress are divided on the intent of the legislation.
The U.S. Treasury Department will begin distributing the money later this month.
It has set a Friday deadline for tribes to submit payment information and supporting documents.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer posted online a statement criticizing the Trump administration.
"President Trump’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney is diverting funds for tribal governments during coronavirus to for-profit Alaska Native Corporations.
We can't put these corporations before tribal governments and people.
Sweeney used to be an exec for an ANC, and she wants to profit!"
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy quickly responded to Schumer's post.
"Senator Schumer, as the governor of Alaska, the state with the largest percentage of Native Americans, I am appalled that you would consider excluding our Alaska Native entities. Read the bill. Thank you Asst. Sec. Tara Sweeney for fighting for all Native Americans."