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March News Bulletin
Dearest Friends,

In just a few short months, we will pass the 50th anniversary of ANSCA being signed into law. Many ANCs have already begun planning celebrations and ceremonies to mark the passing of this benchmark within our peoples’ shared history. After a year spent forced into isolation, the promise of gathering—of being surrounded with our friends and relatives again—is almost too sweet to imagine.

Every month, I open my letters to you by looking back on the achievements detailed within the lower newsletter as a source of pride, and a refreshed sense of cultural identity. I am proud of my community—our community—and I know that my love for our lands and our people is carried by so many readers. This upcoming anniversary is an opportunity to remember how hard our parents and grandparents needed to work for the opportunities we have now, and how much courage the world asked for them to give.

As their descendants, I fear that same courage is now required from us. Last year, the ambiguous phrasing on an economic stimulus bill led the federal courts to deny ANCs federal aid. Now more than a year into the pandemic, with hundreds of Alaskans dead and a devastated state economy, current legislation threatens to doom us to yet another cycle tied up in prolonged argument, when what our people—what everybody—really needs is a dedicated, supported effort towards recovery.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus package now primed to pass through congress has failed to explicitly include ANCs as eligible participants in a $20 billion tribal relief fund. ANCs were excluded from aid, limiting our capacity to provide our people with benefits and services is expected to decrease by 60 percent. ANCs are now a bulwark of industry within Alaska—meaning that the state’s economy, already limping from the loss of almost half its tax revenue this year—is vulnerable to still more recession.

To be clear - Lower 48 Tribes were able to include their many Federal contracting entities and other businesses including large casino operations when considering the economic effects of the Pandemic, and Alaska Native people were not. The overall underrepresentation and losses to the Alaska Native community are enormous, estimated at well over $1 billion.

It is frustrating and insulting to remember the tremendous efforts put forth by healthcare workers on vaccine runs through Alaska’s remote communities—efforts often funded and organized by Alaska Native health groups—against a potential future wherein tribes of the continental U.S. will be allowed to use stimulus money for operating casinos and federal contracting businesses.

In the D.C. court ruling, ANCs were denied access to relief funds on the basis that our operations and business structures could not be considered “tribal governments.” Yet, this profiling of ANCs as entirely for-profit corporations utterly fails to recognize the entire ecosystem we have organized on behalf of fulfilling our people’s needs for social services. From healthcare to education to employment, ANCs have repeatedly stepped up to accept the real-world responsibilities that come with sovereign governance. There is still tremendous, on-going need within many of our communities that the state and federal government lack the bandwidth to address. As so many of Alaska’s lawmakers have pointed out, the state simply does not have the resources to suddenly absorb the work that ANCs currently undertake.

At no point have we sought to profit from stimulus relief funding. The funding released last year was accompanied by such strict regulations regarding its use that there could never have been a question of profiteering.

We oppose this miscarriage of justice without exception, and are committed to pursuing our fair share of relief funds. During all this, we are also balancing our attention on our argument put forth before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for our right to receive our fair portion of the 2020 stimulus relief package, and ANC’s ongoing right to be regarded as critical elements of our tribal government and self-determination. My sincerest thanks go towards the friends and allies who have stepped in to support our team’s legal efforts, either with testimony, friendship, or financial backing. Your strength behind us means everything.

Tsin'aen (Chin'an/Thank You),

Hallie Bissett
ANVCA Executive Director
Upcoming Tribal Consultations

MARCH 22: DEADLINE APPROACHING! DOD Consultation Comment Period Extended. Read letter.

MARCH 9 & 11: USDA Consultation on Consultations and Racial Equity 11:30 a.m. ET - USDA. Read more for more information, and please e-mail USDA to register.

MARCH 12: Department of Interior Presidential Memorandum of January 26, 2021, Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships. Read letter & see attachment.

MARCH 15: Improving EPA’s Consultation with Tribes: Development of the U.S. EPA’s Plan for Improving Implementation of EO 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments. Read letter.

MARCH 18: US Department of Treasury Invitation to Consult on CRF Tribal Distribution.
Begins at 9 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Read more.

APRIL 7: Joint consultation on tribal consultation policies focusing on Alaska Native Villages and Tribes. Read letter & Register.

APRIL 7: DOJ Consultation on Strengthening the Nation-to-Nation Relationship with Tribes and Consultation-Related Policy. Register here.
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
MARCH 9: Webinar: Detailed Preparation of the Incurred Cost Proposal Part 1: General & Job Cost Ledger Related Schedules. Begins at 9 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 10: Webinar: Understanding the Eligibility Requirements for Federal Small Business Certifications - Updated for 2021. Begins at 9 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 10: Webinar: AEDC Voice | Dave Karp, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Saltchuk Alaska. Starts at 10 a.m. Dave’s presentation will provide an overview of Saltchuk as a global company, and then share specific information on the company’s Alaska operating footprint, employment impacts, corporate citizenship and role in the overall economy. He will share some thoughts on the impact of the pandemic and the companies general outlook for future. Register here.

MARCH 10: Webinar: Workforce Vaccinations. Begins at 9:00 a.m. Parker, Smith & Feek will host a panel discussion with diverse experts representing scientists, lawyers, and benefits compliance officers to discuss timely issues such as: What is the current status of COVID-19 and vaccine efforts? What about strain mutations? Can I mandate or incentivize my workforce to receive vaccinations? Learn more and register here.

MARCH 10, 17, 24, 31 (every Wednesday): Weekly briefing for small businesses regarding COVID-19 opportunities. These webinars are hosted by Alaska's Small Business Administration (SBA) and require advanced registration to attend. Learn more on the SBA website.

MARCH 12: Consultation to improve relations with the U.S. Department of the Interior (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. AK time): The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will host a consultation to discuss methods of improving relations between the DOI and ANCs. This follows the memorandum set forth by the Biden administration on January 26, 2021. The DOI has requested that interested parties submit their questions and discussion points to the DOI prior to the consultation. The framing paper for this event and its associated discussion points may be reviewed here. Call (877) 601-4492, passcode 3173996 to join.

MARCH 16: Webinar: Federal Contracting Series by SBA & PTAC: SBA Surety Bond Guarantee Program. Begins at 12:30 p.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 17: Webinar: AGC Lunch & Learn - Contract Opportunities (Beta.SAM.go) Demonstration. Begins at 10:30 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 18: Webinar: How to Take Advantage of Your Socio-Economic Status Effective. Begins at 9 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 18: How Advanced Strategies Address the Rising Cost of Healthcare begins at 1:00 Alaska time Join Alera Group for an interactive webinar and discover how you can address the rising cost of healthcare by leveraging advanced strategies that help you reduce costs, improve health and engage your employees. Register here

MARCH 24: Webinar: AGC Lunch & Learn - Featuring the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG). Begins at 12 p.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

MARCH 25: Alaska Pacific University Graduate Programs Virtual Open House. Alaska Pacific University is hosting a virtual open house highlighting its graduate programs. The open house will cover financial aid, scholarships, and the admissions process. Participants will hear directly from faculty about the opportunities available in our programs. Register here.

MARCH 26: Webinar: The Widening Gap: Income Inequality During the Pandemic. Begins at 12 p.m., facilitated by the Alaska World Affairs Council. The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly widened income equality, resulting in ordinary people suffering from the economic impacts of the pandemic while billionaires continue to expand their fortunes. Join AKWorld in this conversation with Professor Jason Scott Smith to learn more about income inequality and the lasting impacts we will see following the pandemic.

MARCH 30: Webinar: Defending Bid Protests: A Primer on Intervention. Begins at 9 a.m., facilitated by Alaska PTAC. Register here.

APRIL 10: APU’s Virtual Undergraduate Programs Open House. Tailored for individuals interested in learning more about the undergraduate programs Alaska Pacific University has to offer. APU’s undergraduate programs are for students of all backgrounds and college experience. To find out more about opportunities at APU or to meet staff and faculty consider RSVPing to this event.

APRIL 20: APU’s Early Honors Open House. APU has an exciting opportunity for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in earning college credits. APU offers a dual enrollment program, Early Honors, which allows students to complete their first year of college courses while staying connected with their high school. APU’s admissions team will host an open house for students interested in learning more about the program, admissions, and financial aid. Learn more and RSVP here.
Special Event: Free Health Research Program Through APU This Spring
The Alaska Indigenous Research Program (AKIRP) will be hosted online this year. The unique research program–a partnership of Alaska Pacific University and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium–increases the health research capacity of Alaska Native and American Indian individuals and communities by providing cross-cultural research education.

AKIRP is available for anyone interested in Alaska Native health research. Through cross-cultural research education, the program seeks to increase Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) representation among researchers and health scientists, as well as provide Western-trained researchers with knowledge to remain culturally grounded, respectful, and responsive in meeting the health needs of AN/AI communities. Courses are designed for varying levels of experience from beginners to experienced researchers and public health professionals.

AKIRP weeklong courses are offered at no cost to attendees. The spring course calendar and more information is available here.
Legislative Update

FEDERAL NEWS - Presented by Strategies 360

American Recovery Act

The Senate passed the American Recovery Act on Friday, March 5. The bill has changed since passing out of the House. The bill now moves back to the House where it will pass and go straight to the President. Expect it to be signed into law by Friday.
What is in the bill?

  • Total spending of $1.86 trillion.

  • Stimulus payments to the lower- and middle-class: $1,400 one-time payments per individual earning up to $75,000, or couples making $150,000 (cost: $400 billion).

  • Vaccinations and testing: $160 billion.

  • State aid: $360 billion.

  • Unemployment insurance extension plus $300/week supplementary income through September 6, 2021 (Cost: $240 billion).

  • Tax credits and childcare: The major change here expands the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 for children aged 6 to 17. This bill also expands the EITC and other tax credits (Cost: $100 billion).

  • Schools: $170 billion to reopen schools, including costs associated with social distancing, hiring new staff, and refitting buildings to improve ventilation and air handling.

  • Rental Assistance: $45 billion to help low income households who have lost jobs pay rent, mortgages and utility bills. Another $5 billion would go to emergency assistance for homeless families.

  • $23 billion for aviation including $14 billion for airlines, $1 billion for contractor payroll, and $8 billion for airports to upgrade facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • $25 billion for restaurants

  • $50 billion for the FEMA disaster funds (Sec. 4005)

  • $330 billion goes to other, smaller programs including public transit enhancements; additional PPP money; Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) funding; global vaccination funding; Indian Health Service (IHS) funding, etc.  
Interesting to note what wound up on the cutting room floor

  • Minimum Wage Increase: Democrats sought to use the bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The provision was found non-germane to a budget reconciliation bill and removed. Attempts to find a way to include it failed and the provision was dropped.

  • Tax Increases: Discussions have been circulating about walking back a number of provisions from the Trump tax bill. These included raising personal tax rates back to 39.6%, increasing corporate tax rates to 28% and changing the SALT deductions. All of these provisions were dropped.
Worth noting:

  • Student Loan Forgiveness: While student loan forgiveness was not included in the final bill, a provision was included that made any pandemic related student loan forgiveness tax free.  

What’s next?

Word is that Democrats will consider immigration and then infrastructure. The bigger and more consuming bill will be infrastructure.
Budget Update and latest on the Defense budget

The budget is scheduled to go to OMB on April 12 and arrive on Capitol Hill on May 3. The top line is expected to be $708 billion (Base + OCO, but not including DOE and MILCON), which is ~3% or $20 billion more than the equivalent number in FY2021.  
It's rumored that the State of the Union is still likely to happen on March 23. That said, all major deadlines have been pushed back pending completion of the Stimulus. The CBO estimate is that the U.S. Government will borrow $2.3 trillion during FY2021 (October 21, 2020–September 30, 2021). That estimate goes up to between ~$3.8 trillion and $4.0 trillion with the passage of the stimulus.  

Congress has announced that it will bring back earmarks. Requesting earmarks will be a separate process on top of the traditional request process. Deadlines will be mid-April in the House. Members will be allowed to ask for no more than 10 projects and no more than 1% of all funding in any individual bill can go to earmarks. 
State of Alaska GR Report
As of 3/10/2021
The legislature convened on Tuesday January 19th. All newly elected members of the house and senate were sworn in and they are both formally in session.
State Senate
The Senate is made up of 13 Republicans and 7 Democrats. The republicans have formed the majority caucus and the leadership positions are as follows:
Sen. Peter Micciche – Senate President
Sen. Gary Stevens- Rules Chairman
Sen. Shelly Hughes- Majority Leader
Sen. Bert Stedman- Finance Co-Chair
Sen. Click Bishop- Finance Co-Chair
Sen. Mia Costello- Majority Whip
Committee Chairs are:
Community and Regional Affairs – Sen. Shelly Hughes (R-Palmer)
Education – Sen. Roger Holland (R-Anchorage)
Health and Social Services – Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla)
Judiciary – Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River)
Labor and Commerce – Sen. Mia Costello (R-Anchorage)
Resources – Sen. Josh Revak (R-Anchorage)
State Affairs – Sen. Mike Shower (R-Wasilla)
Transportation – Sen. Robert Myers (R-North Pole)
Legislative Budget and Audit – Sen. Natasha von Imhof (R-Anchorage)
Sen. Lyman Hoffman joined the majority caucus as he has done in the past and is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Hoffman is also the only senate democrat serving on the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LBA) which is required to have members from both political parties by statute. This is important because the Senate Minority is not represented on the LBA committee which has become more important as it plays a critical role in the disposition of federal funds like those received under the CARES Act.

State House
The House is currently made up of 15 Democrats, 21 Republicans, and 4 Independents. The close partisan/ideological divide in the House meant the House was not able to organize for 31 days. Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) was elected Speaker when Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River) surprised many by joining with the coalition of 15 democrats and 4 independents to approve her nomination. Representatives Stutes, Edgmon, Foster and Patkotak showed great leadership in bringing the closely divided house together and all were able to secure key leadership positions.
Representative Stutes – Speaker
Representative Edgmon – Rules Chair
Representative Tuck – Majority Leader
Representative Foster – Finance Co-Chair
Representative Merrick – Finance Co-Chair
Committee Chairs of Standing Committees are:
Community and Regional Affairs– Rep. Hannan (D-Juneau), Rep. Schrage (D-Anc) Co-Chairs. Rep. Patkotak (I-Utqiagvik) Vice-Chair.

Education- Rep. Drummond (D-Anc), Rep. Story (D-Juneau) Co-Chairs.

Health and Social Services-  Rep. Snyder (D-Anc), Rep. Zulkosky (D-Bethel) Co-Chairs.

Judiciary- Rep. Claman (D-Anc) Chair

Labor and Commerce-  Rep. Fields (D-Anc), Rep. Sponholz (D-Anc) Co-Chairs.
Resources- Rep. Patkotak, Chair. Note-Rep. Patkotak is the first sole chair of the House Resources Committee since Rep. Williams (R-Ketchikan) in 1993.
State Affairs- Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka)
Transportation- Rep. Hopkins (D-Fairbanks)
Chairs of Special Committees of note are Energy (Rep. Schrage D-Anc), Fisheries (Rep. Tarr, D-Anc), Military and Veterans Affairs (Rep. Tuck, D-Anc), Tribal Affairs (Rep. Zulkosky, D-Bethel) and Ways & Means (Rep. Sponholz, D-Anc).
State Budget
With the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) projected balance to have fallen below $1 billion in FY 2021 from a high of over $12 billion in FY 2014 (~$18 billion including other accounts) much of the focus of the 32nd Alaska State Legislature will be on what Senator Stedman has been calling the “structural deficit.” Below is a table that we have created from various tables provided to the Senate Finance Committee that is intended to give a perspective on the fiscal challenges facing the state. The numbers are changing as revenue and expenditure data is updated and the Table is meant to be illustrative. The table shows projected revenues and expenditures by fiscal year in millions of dollars. It also includes projected deficits before and after payment of a $1,000 permanent fund dividend.

We will be closely monitoring various proposals to address the deficit, especially those related to corporate income tax, as they could have significant implications for Alaska Native Corporations.
SB 24 – (Senator Wilson) allows corporations to conduct business meetings electronically. The bill was originally part of the Governor’s Public Health Emergency (PHE) and Senator Wilson has been advancing as the PHE expired.
HB 9 (Representative Hannan) - We flagged HB 9 which proposes to establish an income tax because it also specifically targets Alaska Native Settlement Trusts. We have already started working on a white paper introducing the issue if needed but also engaged with Representative Hannan directly and she now has a better understanding of the role of settlement trusts and why levying a state tax on them is bad policy.
SB 54 (Governor) – Authorizes the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to issue bonds to provide matching funds for village safe water projects and transportation projects.
SB 62 (Governor) – Provides a mechanism for the state to lease and collect revenues from adjacent submerged lands while protecting surface waters, modifies limitations on leases in the Southern Cook Inlet and provides for the legislature to appropriate proceeds from lease sales of submerged lands to the Renewable Energy Grant Fund.
SB 74 (Governor) – authorizes the issuance of General Obligation Bonds for certain capital projects.
Of other interest may be:
HB 38 (Representative Zulkosky) proposes to make changes to the Alaska Police Standards Council and DPS to support efforts to combat the crisis related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
HB 47 (Representative Story) Council for Alaska Native Languages.
HB 56 (Representative Foster) making changes to the PCE endowment.
SB 13 (Senator Begich) increasing the oil and gas property tax.
Other Issues
Federal Authorization in Omnibus of $1 billion Tribal Broadband and the $300 million NTIA Broadband program. We are currently awaiting guidance from the NTIA for the applications but do recognize that the $300 million pot requires a partnership with a state or local government.

Job Openings
Alaska Pacific University | Chief Advancement Officer: This position advises the President on all matters pertaining to the University’s fundraising strategy and the management of the Advancement operations, including Alumni Relations. This position is responsible for daily oversight and administration of fundraising including: major, principal, and planned gifts; endowments; prospect research; foundation, corporate and donor relations; and specific campaign efforts. The CAO manages a team of development and support staff to achieve fundraising goals. Learn more.
Alaska Pacific University | Compliance/Risk Officer: This position provides leadership, direction, and integration of compliance and risk assessment/reduction activities. Responsibilities include developing training programs, managing emergency and risk management protocols, and reviewing policies and contracts to meet university needs and state and federal regulations. Risk assessment encompasses a broad perspective across campus that involves the safety of students, employees and visitors. Learn more.

Alaska Pacific University | Director of Information Technology: This position provides vision and leadership for the development and maintenance of innovative technology solutions that support student engagement, transform the learning environment, optimize resources, minimize risk, provide data for informed business decisions, and monitor systems that optimize business process. Learn more.

Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA is currently hiring for multiple science and engineering positions, including paying jobs for students. Read more here.

ACLU Alaska | Advocacy Manager: The Advocacy Manager's responsibilities include development of public education campaign materials, staff and volunteer training, collaboration with national councils to organize and distribute outreach campaign materials, and fostering partnerships with member organizations joined to ACLU's various coalitions. Minimum requirements include several years in community outreach or social justice advocacy work, high interpersonal skills, leadership ability, and drive. Read more here.

Rasmuson Foundation | Executive Assistant: Rasmuson is seeking an Executive Assistant (EA) to the Vice President of External Affairs (VP). The EA’s responsibilities will include overseeing the VP’s calendar, managing travel arrangements, providing logistical support for meetings, tracking project process, acting as project lead on projects assigned by the VP, coordinating mailings and external events, and general clerical duties. Minimum five years prior experience required, strong computer and Microsoft Office skills, and strong interpersonal skills are necessary. Read more here.

Municipality of Anchorage | Chief Equity Officer: This position will support and manage Municipal Policies and Programs that promote equity and opportunity. The Chief Equity Officer will work with the Mayor’s office to recruit and manage various Municipal committees to ensure diverse community representation. The Officer will develop leadership opportunities designed to facilitate the professional advancement of individuals from underserved populations, including communities of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ+ individuals, differently abled individuals, and so on. Read more here.
February: Political News
FEBRUARY 15: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reports greater equity and outreach to underserved entrepreneurs in recent PPP programming. The SBA reports that it has approved $104 billion in funding to be dispersed to over 1.3 million small businesses. In terms of equity, general statistics from this round of PPP show that 28% of funding went to businesses in rural communities, 82% of loans went to the country’s smallest businesses, and partnerships between Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) are up. Read more about this story here.

FEBRUARY 15: The Washington Post reports that Alaska’s state revenue decreased 43% between 2019 and 2020—a figure more than twice as high as any other state (Hawai’i was in second place, at -17%). The hit taken by the Oil & Gas industry, upon which Alaska is heavily reliant, was cited as a major cause in the loss of revenue. Read the full story here.

FEBRUARY 23: Before the U.S. Supreme Court, ANVCA argued the recent D.C. District Court’s ruling to exclude ANCs from receiving CARES Act funds, on the basis that ANCs could not be classified as an ‘Indian tribe.’ Citing congressional and circuit court rulings dating back to 1975 through the present, ANVCA rejected the opposition’s claim that ANCs should be classified as private businesses, noting, “Whereas a typical corporation exists to maximize shareholder value for a constantly shifting set of shareholders, ANCs are distinctly Native entities...that exist to provide benefits and services to promote Natives' welfare and to manage lands and funds provided in exchange for the settlement of Native land claims."

In addition, ANVCA laid out the far-reaching implications of denying federal funding for vulnerable and remote Native communities, and rejected the D.C. court’s supposition that the state of Alaska or its agencies take over the administrative, financial, and cultural stewardship role ANCs have filled on behalf of their communities and shareholders over the last 40 years. The State has already communicated that it lacks the resources to replace ANC undertakings. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 25: Senator Lisa Murkowski speaks out in defense of ANCs and their unique structuring, calling the ANCs' structure a benefit for greater self-determination and agency among Alaska's tribes in the state's community and economic landscape. Senator Murkowski's remarks were addressed to Reb. Debra Haaland during a hearing called to consider the nomination of Rep. Haaland as Interior Secretary.

In answer to Sen. Murkowski's questions, Rep. Haaland replied, “Thank you, Senator Murkowski, and yesI know that Alaska is a unique situation with Alaska Native Corporations. I understand that there are 229 Alaska Native Villages within those regions. I also understand that ANCs provide services, social services to the Alaska Native people, and to that regard, they’re not like any other corporations, when we think of corporations. I understand that’s important. Of course, I am not a scholar of Alaska, but with your help I will absolutely learn more and be absolutely willing to make sure that Alaska Native peoplewhether through the Alaska Native Corporations or any other organizationsget the services that they need.”

MARCH 1: Regarding the ANVCA et al./Yellen U.S. Treasury vs. Chehalis et al. court case, the Alaska Delegation continues to gain momentum and support this week thanks to a series of new filings from the Alaska Federation of Natives, the State of Alaska, the Alaska Congressional Delegation, the Alaska Housing association, and CIRI. Read the briefs here.

MARCH 1: Echoing the earlier article published in The Washington Post (see Feb. 15 above), the New York Times analyzes the economic impact of COVID-19 on state economies, through comparing changes in state tax revenue compared to last year. Their overall findings on a national level were overall optimisticthe vast majority of states negatively effected encountered only minor setbacks (less than 10% tax revenue lost), and a seemingly equal number actually enjoyed increased revenue. A handful of states saw revenues decrease between 10-20%—but Alaska's comparative figures can only be described as catastrophic. Our tax revenue decreased 42.5% compared to last year. Read the article here.

MARCH 4: Rep. Haaland's nomination to head the U.S. Department of the Interior is approved to advance to the full chamber's vote, setting Rep. Haaland on the precipice of becoming the first Native American to join a presidential candidate. Rep. Haaland advanced after a 11-9 vote to confirm from the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, with Senator Murkowski voting to confirm alongside her democrat colleagues. Addressing her decision to vote to confirm, Senator Murkowski indicated that while she had misgivings regarding Rep. Haaland's past protests of pipeline development, she had chosen to believe Rep. Haaland's commitment to see Alaska flourish.

MARCH 5: Speculation flourishes as to whether Senate Democrats have sufficiently compromised in the provisions of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill to entice Senator Murkowski's support. Senator Murkowski has been very vocal in her allegiance to ANCs, and has repeatedly condemned their exclusion from last year's stimulus payments to federally recognized tribes. To our alarm, the language in the latest stimulus package once again does not explicitly guarantee ANCs as eligible to receive aid. Seeking to call attention to this oversight, ANVCA and ARA released the following statement:

"We are deeply concerned by language in the Senate bill that would severely limit funds available to Alaska Native people. Despite our state’s successful vaccination deployment, scores of Alaska’s Native communities are stretched to a breaking point. Many of our villages lack road access and over 30 Alaska Native communities currently lack access to running water. These realities are further exacerbated by the economic devastation COVID-19 has brought to Alaska, along with some of the highest mortality rates in the nation."
Paycheck Protection Program Updates
Data points regarding PPP performance are current as of March 4, 2021.

  • National PPP total (2020 + 2021) – More than 7.5 million PPP loans totaling more than $687 billion have been guaranteed by the SBA since 2020.

  • National PPP total 2021 – 2.4 million PPP loans valued at $164.9 billion have been approved during 2021.

  • Majority of PPP loans are small – 74% of all 2021 PPP loans (approximately 1.8 million) are for $50,000 and under; 85% are for $100,000 or under; nearly 91% are for $150,000 or under.

  • The average 2021 PPP loan size dropped again to $68k, from $71k last week and $73k and $75k respectively during the previous weeks. This shows that small businesses are receiving this vital economic aid.

  • In Alaska, 5,763 loans (valued at $503 million) have so far been approved in 2021.

The SBA has released the following information that is pertinent to future PPP activity:

  • The current 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees ends March 9, 2021. The SBA will continue to accept PPP applications for all eligible borrowers until March 31, 2021 or until appropriated funding is exhausted.

  • New PPP application forms were recently released that allow Schedule C filers to use gross income rather than net income when calculating the PPP loan amount which can lead to more financial support for sole proprietors and the self-employed.

  • The SBA eliminated restrictions to businesses with owners who have prior non-financial fraud felony convictions. The SBA has also eliminated the restriction on businesses owned or controlled by owners who have federal student loan debt that is currently delinquent or has defaulted.  

  • All lawful U.S. residents have access to the PPP. The SBA recently clarified that Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) are permitted as the identifier for a business owned by a sole proprietor and for a principal, ensuring access for non-citizen small business owners. ITINs are issued by the IRS. 

  • The SBA has compiled resources aimed at helping borrowers successfully complete the PPP application and forgiveness process. This includes a search function to find a local counselor, a way to check PPP loan status, a series of on-demand webinars, and PPP information in 17 different languages.
February: Our Community in Review
FEBRUARY 5: The Strong Hearts Native Helpline announces it will soon expand its operations to offer 24/7 hotline service. Strong Hearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) provides compassionate, culturally-appropriate advocacy and counsel to those experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA). The service is free and confidential for all callers.

FEBRUARY 7: The Alaska National Guard promotes Mr. Wayne Don, of Calista Corporation, to the rank of brigadier general. Mr. Don, who is from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, is now the highest ranking Alaska Native serving in the Alaska National Guard. In addition to his service, Mr. Don is also a Calista board member, and chairman of Nunivak Island Mekoryuk Alaska Corporation.

FEBRUARY 10: The Department of Energy; Arctic Energy Office (AEO) reopens and unveils their refreshed website. We encourage you to check out their site and take stock of the AEO’s programs and available resources.

FEBRUARY 10: Recognizing the enviably high rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution facilitated by Native health organizations, CNN publishes an article discussing the various tactics and social marketing methods used by Native health workers to build reach their served communities. The primary group interviewed and studied throughout the article is the Cherokee Nation. Successful tactics identified by CNN include culturally relevant messaging, prioritizing the inoculation of “treasured” community members (e.g., final speakers of endangered languages) as a means of demonstrating vaccine desirability, linguistic and ethnic representation among authority figures (e.g. healthcare workers who are Native, or testimony from a trusted Native voice),tribal autonomy in identifying who should be given vaccination priority, and Native ownership over local healthcare operations. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 15: The village of Tuluksak is devastated by the loss of their pump house and laundromat to fire. As the remote community’s only source of clean drinking water, the loss of this critical piece of infrastructure has left Tuluksak uncomfortably vulnerable. While various charities, government agencies, and health organizations have rallied around Tuluksak to address their immediate need for water, residents will remain discomforted until an alternative, long-term solution has been established. Read the full story here.

FEBRUARY 16: Coca-Cola and PepsiCo team up to donate 6,000 pounds of water to the village of Tuluksak after a fire destroyed the village pump house and laundromat. Ravn Air and Ryan Air also step up to provide transport support. News of the collaboration is featured on a GoFundMe set up to provide emergency relief to rural Alaska during COVID-19. The donation page is here.

FEBRUARY 16: Alaskans celebrate Elizabeth Peratrovich day, honoring a powerhouse figure and champion of Native civil rights. Her major cause was lobbying for the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Bill, which preceded the nation’s civil rights act by 20 years.

FEBRUARY 17: The profile of a young mother captures national attention on Good Morning America. Cara Lestenkof-Mandregan is a native of St. Paul Island and belongs to a tightly-knit family, in a remote community of about 400. When Cara and her boyfriend found out that she was pregnant with twins, COVID-19 arrived in Alaska, and the pair were forced to make some tough sacrifices. Carrying and delivering twins is a high-risk prospect for the mother and the babies, and doctors recommended bi-weekly checkups in Anchorage to monitor Cara’s progress. Determined to protect her community, Cara and her boyfriend travelled to Anchorage and self-isolated for over ten weeks while Cara waited out the final months of her pregnancy, gave birth, and recovered. While the long, lonely weeks during such a sensitive time serve as a reminder for how COVID-19 has affected young mothers, this story has a happy ending—Cara gave birth to healthy young daughters, whose bright faces may be admired here.

FEBRUARY 20: Mr. Anthony “Tony” Drabek, Koniag board member and former CEO at Natives of Kodiak, Inc., publishes an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News ruminating on ANCSA’s fifty-year history, the progress ANCs have made over the decades, how socially-conscious businesses can impact the lives of the people around them, and how his own personal history connects to ANC leadership.

FEBRUARY 22: Rural Alaska’s exemplary COVID-19 vaccine distribution is featured by the New Yorker. At time of publication, Alaska leads the nation with 18% of the population reporting their receipt of at least the first vaccine shot. The article recognizes the Native community’s painful history with disease during the 20th century, and how Alaska Natives have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Tribal health organizations emerge as the hero of this story, as their vaccine distribution strategies and logistical acrobatics have consistently outperformed Alaska’s larger communities. After an early surge, however, vaccination rates have begun to taper. Experts believe the dominant reason for this late-stage resistance is doubt and fear in vaccine efficacy and the integrity of the federal government. Read the full article here.

FEBRUARY 23: Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF) announces its partnership with American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (Honda). This alliance is set on opening three authorized Honda Service Centers in rural Alaska. Rural Alaskans will soon have increased access to repairs and expertise for their ATVs and UTVs (side-by-sides). The program is a novel one for Honda, and local mechanics have expressed enthusiasm for the incoming service, citing the tremendous expense of shipping heavy machinery to Anchorage for repairs as a major barrier in practicing remote subsistence living. Read the full press release here.

FEBRUARY 23: ANVCA’s longtime allies from Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt host a presentation and Q&A session discussing the programming particulars and requirements associated with the second draw of federal PPP loans.

FEBRUARY 25: There's a new grant opportunity for Alaskans involved with agriculture and natural resource conservation. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced that it will be making up to $469,750 available in grants this year for projects demonstrating innovative ideas about how to improve soil health. Learn more about this opportunity here.

FEBRUARY 27: The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) announces a $38 million program budget for funding opportunities intended to bolster tech-based economic developments in regional communities. The limit of each award is $1.5 million. Read more about this funding opportunity here.

FEBRUARY 28: DASH systems reports another strong month of performance. They have hinted at the completion of another exciting patent, and are currently seeking opportunities to promote their courier services through podcasts, programs, and other venues. See their monthly newsletter here.

MARCH 3: Southcentral Foundation announces that it will be opening its supply of COVID-19 vaccines up for the general public's use, as supplies permit. New populations deemed elligible for vaccination include Alaskans age 40+, teachers and childcare workers. Read the article here.

MARCH 8: The New York Times publishes a story on COVID-19 in Alaska's most remote communities. The article examines how the threat of historic deadly disease lingers in Alaska Native communities, and how many of them are continuing to live and quarantine in circumstances similar to the ones practiced by their grandparents (e.g., absolute lockdowns, lack of running water in villages, etc.). The harsh temperatures, limited access to medical professionals, and heightened threat to Elders has cultivated a climate of exhausted fear throughout many of these small communities. The rate of death among Alaska Natives from COVID-19 outstrips white Alaskans by a ratio of 4 to 1. Read the full article here.

Partner Highlight: Outlook Law
Outlook Law has been a partner, advisor, and friend to ANVCA since our inception. Led by Christine Williams, Outlook Law wrote ANVCA’s original articles and bylaws, and stepped up to perform a tremendous amount of pro bono work last year when we were first arguing ANCs' right to receive federal stimulus funding. Outlook Law has provided ANVCA with legal counsel since the very beginning of our operations, much to our happy benefit.

In an industry that can often present as prohibitively expensive for contracting work, Outlook Law has proven its commitment to providing customers with high-value legal services. Just as nobody’s above the law, nobody should be beneath it either. Thanks to her focus on personal discipline, integrity, ethics, and excellence, Ms. Williams has built a promising new firm amid an adversarial economy. Her past work acting as a leader and legal advisor to ANCs has also provided her with a wealth of experience in understanding ANCs’ internal affairs. Thanks in part to this fortunate fission of experience, Outlook Law continues to do tremendous work in facilitating professional training for ANCs and Village Corporations looking to bid on government contracts.

Outlook Law does more than just educate, however. With a foremost respect for discretion and client confidentiality, Outlook Law takes on everything from FBI/DOJ investigations, appellate work, trial work, SBA regulatory work, and more. Speaking to her firm’s experience, Ms. Williams says, “We were always careful of what clients we took on and kept. We value ethics in our firm and in our clients. Everyone makes mistakes—that is what we are here to help with—but we do not compromise on ethics. [Due to demand], it’s hard to get in the door, but once you’re in, we promise straight-forward legal advice delivered by experienced attorneys.”

Ms. Williams’ prolific, successful career also led her to be ranked within the top 1% of lawyers considered by the American Bar Foundation, with a similar accolade bestowed by U.S. News and World Report. She was also celebrated as an Acritas Star by Thomson Reuters, an honor only bestowed by senior in-house counsel.

When the pandemic hit, Outlook Law leaned into the opportunity for greater flexibility and client savings afforded by virtual conferencing technology. The firm has now expanded to include new hires Andrew P. March and Paul M. Cognac, both excellent lawyers with diverse perspectives and ideas. We couldn’t be more delighted to report the well-earned success of such a dedicated and loyal friend. Thank you for all that you have done.

ANVCA Sponsors
Thank you to our Moose Sponsors!

The moose is a critical Partner to ANVCA. We rely on large corporate partners for viability the organization. This level of Partnership is designed for committed Partners who value their relationships with Alaska Native Village Corporations or looking to build new relationships. Building moose level Partnerships will allow ANVCA to expand services and projects for the long term economic benefit of Alaska Native Village Corporations.
Thank you to our Salmon Sponsors

The salmon is the Partner we depend on annually at ANCVA. This Partnership level designed for mid to large size Partners who can commit financially to ensure that ANVCA has the resources to maintain and improve services to Members and Partners. Salmon level Partnerships allow the organization to thrive.
Thank you to our Caribou Sponsors!

The caribou is a key player in the sustainability of ANVCA. These Partners include mid-size and local businesses or organizations who treasure contacts within ANVCA. Caribou level Partners are vital to projects and programming for Members and Partners.
Thank you to our Denali Village Corp Members!
This level of membership is suggested for Alaska Native Village Corporations whose annual revenues exceed $50 million and/or those that highly support the value of the organization for the opportunities, education and advocacy it provides to Village Corporations.
To view our full list of sponsor organizations or learn more about becoming a sponsor please visit our ANVCA sponsor page.
Newsletter developed by WALSH|SHEPPARD