NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on tribes’ constitutional relationships with Congress

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on tribes’ constitutional relationships with Congress

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Free virtual event part of Native American Heritage Month celebration

Nov. 6, 2020

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a free online lecture this Tuesday on tribes’ constitutional relationships with Congress as part of its series in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.

In the presentation, “ANCSA and the Alaska Native Federally Recognized Tribes and Their Respective Constitutional Relationships with Congress,” Chris McNeil, the owner of Native Strategy Group and former president and CEO of Sealaska, will examine a recent federal lawsuit that may have consequences for Native corporations founded under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.

The lawsuit, Chehalis v Mnuchin, between certain federally recognized tribes and ANCSA corporations concerning whether an ANCSA corporation is an “Indian Tribe” under the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act of 1975 has highlighted the question of the nature of the relationship between ANCSA corporations and Congress, McNeil wrote.

“The immediate consequence is whether the ANCSA village and regional corporations will be able to share in funding authorized by Title V of the CARES act,” he wrote. “These funds are intended to help Alaska Natives and Indians deal with the many negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“However, an additional threat to the ANCSA corporations is whether they will continue to participate in more than 60 federal Indian programs of general applicability.  This includes the 8(a) federal contracting programs that have fueled so much economic growth in Alaska.”

McNeil’s presentation will examine the concept that both the Alaska Native tribes organized under the 1936 IRA Amendments and the ANCSA corporations each independently share a relationship with the Congress as Indian tribes under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

The talk, scheduled at noon on Tuesday, Nov.10, will be live streamed on SHI’s YouTube channel ( The series, which focuses on citizens and shareholders in Alaska Native corporations and tribes, is also offered as part of a one-credit course through the University of Alaska Southeast.

The talks are offered through the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program. 

About the Lecturer

Chris E. McNeil, Jr., former president and CEO of Sealaska­­, is Tlingit and a member of the Nisga’a Nation. He is Eagle Dakl’aweidí (Killerwhale) House and his Tlingit name is Shaakakóoni. Originally from Juneau, he worked for Sealaska since 1978, holding various­­ positions, including two terms as executive vice president and general council and one term on the board of directors. Prior to joining Sealaska, McNeil held numerous positions around the country, including Washington representative and counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut, chairman of the Native American Rights Fund, director of American Indian Programs at Stanford University, director of Goldbelt, Inc., director of the American Indian National Bank, president of the Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council, chairman of the Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority and second vice president of the Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska. McNeil earned a law degree from Stanford University, a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Stanford University, and a Master’s in political science from Yale University.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,


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