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Calista And The Kuskokwim Corporation Receive CARES Act Funds

The Kuskokwim Corporation President/CEO Andra Gusty
Courtesy of TKC

Following a more than year-long court battle, Alaska Native corporations have received CARES Act Tribal Relief funding, including the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation.

The regional Calista Corporation has received $12.2 million in CARES Act Tribal Relief funds. In a statement, Calista said that its leadership is determining how to spend the money, and that it expects this decision to take several weeks. Under federal regulation, the funds must be spent on direct pandemic relief.

The Kuskokwim Corporation (TKC) is an Alaska Native corporation formed from the merger of 10 upper Kuskokwim River village corporations. It received $821,474.24 in CARES Act Tribal Relief funds. President and CEO Andrea Gusty said that the board is meeting this week to decide how to spend the money. As its executive leader, Gusty is recommending that all the funds go directly to shareholders.

“It’s real clear to us that we can’t do a lot project-wise with $821,000, but we can make probably the biggest impact with individual, direct shareholder payments based on need,” Gusty said.

Gusty said that most TKC shareholders were not eligible for CARES Act funds received by their tribes. The tribes distributed funds only to residents, and. a majority of corporation shareholders no longer live there. Just over a quarter, 26% of them, live in the region. Gusty hopes that the distribution will be prompt.

“We know that people are feeling the effects right now from the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to be able to get this money out to them as soon as possible,” Gusty said.

Gusty said that eligible shareholders would need to attest that they were negatively impacted economically by the pandemic. The corporation could be releasing more details on how to apply for the funding and who is eligible as early as next week.

More than 200 Alaska Native regional and village corporations are receiving a portion of the about $450 million allocated for CARES Act Tribal Relief. Alaska Native corporations have until the end of the year to spend the funds.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Alaska Native corporations were eligible for the Tribal Relief funding designated to help tribes respond to the pandemic. Six tribes had contested the corporations’ eligibility for the funding. One of the contesting tribes was the Akiak Native Community, which is located within the Calista region.

Anna Rose MacArthur served as KYUK's News Director from 2015-2022.