As COVID-19 took hold in the Unites States in early 2020, Indigenous Peoples were amongst the most impacted. This minority population suffered much higher rates of infection, with members of Indigenous communities more than three times more likely to be hospitalized and more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to other demographics.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed into law in March 2020 allocated $2.2 trillion to stem the tide of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic – $8 billion of which was set aside for Indian tribes to recover economic losses in their communities and lower the health impact of COVID-19.

Over $500 million of CARES Act funding was to go to Alaska Native Corporations (ANC) to be dispersed to lessen the impact of COVI D-19 on the approximately 140,000 Natives who call Alaska home. Unfortunately, several tribes led by Indigenous Peoples in the Lower 48 filed a lawsuit that blocked ANCs from receiving the much-needed CARES Act funding. At the heart of the lawsuit was the tribal status of ANCs. In June 2021, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision that ANCs are, in fact, Indian tribes as defined in the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA). With this ruling, ANCs were granted access to CARES Act funding.

Working within the U.S. Treasury Department’s four-month deadline for usage of the funds (the date for disbursement has since been extended to Sept. 30, 2022, although funds still had to be committed by the end of 2021), and within the stringent restrictions on fund usage, Chugach immediately mobilized its team members and developed a COVID Relief Funds program, including processes and procedures.

Ultimately, Chugach committed $24.2 million to shareholders, shareholder-owned businesses, statewide Alaska Native entities, statewide non-profits, and Chugach region entities.

The funds provided much-needed relief to individual shareholders and their businesses, and also addressed critical needs within our communities:

  • Food Security & Subsistence Programs
  • Housing & Heating Assistance Programs (including homeless populations)
  • Emergency Vehicles
  • Health Care Facilities & Clinics
  • Health Care Equipment & Supplies
  • Hospital Expenses (Ventilators, Testing Equipment, Staffing)
  • Disaster Planning & Communications

You can read more about some of the specific projects facilitated through CARES Act funds below:

For media inquiries, contact Communications
Director Randi Jo Gause

Contact Randi