Additional Pandemic Assistance Programs Launched For Alaska Natives


JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – Additional programs have been launched to provide pandemic assistance to members of the Tlingit and Haida tribes and shareholders of an Alaskan Native corporation with a shareholder base of Tlingit and Haida origin.

One of the programs, from the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, is offering up to $ 1,000 in aid to tribal members who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other, from Goldbelt Inc., provides up to $ 2,600 per shareholder. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens and be able to demonstrate a financial impact of the pandemic to be eligible, KTOO Public Media reported.

Nathan Johnson recently applied for one of the $ 1,000 grants. He used to have seasonal jobs in Angoon, but the pandemic hit the economy hard there and he moved to Juneau for work opportunities. Angoon’s grandparents take care of his three children, whom he wants to bring to Juneau.

He works in a restaurant and is saving for an apartment for his family. He said that $ 1,000 would be a “big help” and that submitting his candidacy seemed “a big mountain on his shoulders.”

Funding for the Tlingit and Haida program comes from a federal stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year. The program will remain open until the end of 2024 or until all funds are spent, according to a tribal government statement.

Goldbelt has over $ 11 million available for its program, which would be enough to make the maximum payout to each of its nearly 4,000 shareholders.

“We have enough money for everyone to get the full amount if they can demonstrate the need, said McHugh Pierre, CEO of Goldbelt. “So I want everyone to apply, justify your amount, and we’ll reimburse you for those fees up to $ 2,600.”

The application period ends on September 30. Pierre said all remaining funds will go to another relief program, to be determined in October. The funds must be spent this year.

The money comes from a federal stimulus package approved last year that was stuck in litigation. The United States Supreme Court ruled in June that funds set aside for tribes could also go to Native Alaskan societies.

Once the dispute is resolved, Goldbelt wants to put funds “back into the hands of our shareholders and help them in this difficult time,” said Pierre.

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