indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
GAO report reviews funding for Alaska Native villages
Monday, December 15, 2003

The majority of Alaska Native villages are threatened by flooding and erosion, but few qualify for federal funds under existing guidelines, according to a Congressional report released on Friday.

In the first study of its kind, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed environmental dangers facing 213 villages. Most, or 86 percent, suffer from long-standing or seasonal threats, investigators reported.

Focusing on nine villages in particular, the GAO found four in "imminent danger" from flooding and erosion. Kivalina, Koyukuk, Newtok, and Shishmaref are in the process of relocating to prevent, in some cases, from falling into the sea.

"Because of the high cost of materials and transportation in remote parts of Alaska, the cost of relocation for these villages is expected to be high," the report said.

Five others -- Barrow, Bethel, Kaktovik, Point Hope and Unalakleet -- won't be moving but "experience serious flooding and erosion," the GAO reported. These villages are in various stages of responding to their problems, working with state and federal officials on planning efforts.

Normally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) would be able to provide assistance to these villages. Each agency operates programs to respond to flooding and erosion that Alaska Natives face.

But the GAO found that the villages have a tough time getting help. "With few exceptions, Alaska Native villages' requests for the Corps' assistance are denied because of the Corps' determination that project costs outweigh the expected benefits," the report stated.

"Even villages that do meet the Corps' cost/benefit criteria may still fail to receive assistance if they cannot provide or find sufficient funding to meet the cost-share requirements for the project," the report added.

Getting funding through the NRCS is somewhat easier, the GAO reported. Some villages have received funding from two of three key NRCS programs them because subsistence, impact on burial grounds and other factors are taken into account, not just cost/benefit.

As funding for Alaska Natives comes under greater scrutiny, the report makes recommendations on how the delivery of federal services to villages might be changed. Expanding the role of the Denali Commission, a federal-state venture; directing federal agencies to take into account social and environmental factors in analyzing village projects; waiving the cost/benefit requirements for the projects; and "bundling" of funding from different federal agencies are four ways suggested by the GAO.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) requested the erosion study through a rider in the 2003 military appropriations act. He has proposed another rider, in the 2004 omnibus appropriations act that was passed by the House last week and will be considered by the Senate next month, to require GAO to look at a wider range of federal funding for Alaska's tribes.

Stevens said he was prompted over reports of villages wasting federal housing funds. "[W]e found one area of Alaska, we did fund those and there wasn't a house built in four years, but there's all those people out there hired to help them," he told Alaska reporters in early October.

Friday's study found instances where federal funding was provided to villages that are planning to relocate. According to the report, Denali Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreed to fund a $1.1 million health clinic in Newtok even though residents don't plan on living there.

"Had the agencies known of the village's relocation plans they could have explored other, potentially less costly, options for meeting the village's needs, until it is able to relocate," the report stated.

The Federal Aviation Administration solicited bids for a $10.3 million project to improve the airport runway in Koyukuk. FAA officials said they were unaware the village was planning to move, but that state officials knew, according to the GAO report.

Of the four villages planning relocation, only Kivalina has made cost estimates -- ranging from $100 million to $400 million, depending on the new site chosen.

Get the Report:
Alaska Native Villages: Most Are Affected by Flooding and Erosion, but Few Qualify for Federal Assistance. GAO-04-142 | Highlights

Omnibus Appropriations Bill:
MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2004, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES (House Rpt.108-401)

Related Stories:
Senate to take up appropriations bill in '04 (12/10)
House passes massive appropriations measure (12/9)
Massive spending bill likely to be delayed till '04 (12/8)
Massive appropriations bill holds surprises (12/4)
Tribes lobbying against 'harmful' appropriations riders (11/10)
Stevens unapologetic in speech to Alaska Natives (10/27)
Stevens remarks on Alaska Natives draw fire (10/7)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: Missing Oglala Sioux woman found dead (2/11)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Town repays Oneida Nation with racism (2/11)
Brandon Ecoffey: Treaties guaranteed health care for our people (2/11)
Vincent Armenta: Chumash Tribe battles opponents at every turn (2/11)
Michael Marchand: Arrow Lakes people still fighting for our rights (2/11)
Steven Newcomb: Federal Indian law based on invented realities (2/11)
Native basketball tournament bars player who lacks Indian blood (2/11)
Armed occupation of wildlife refuge in Oregon ends with arrests (2/11)
Native activists ask Obama to help with liquor sales in Whiteclay (2/11)
South Dakota lawmakers kill bill to support return of land to tribes (2/11)
Miami Nation agrees to forfeit $48M from online lending business (2/11)
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation creates $1.2M endowment at ASU (2/11)
Colville Tribes issue citation for death of rare owl on reservation (2/11)
Fort Independence Indian Community cheated by former partner (2/11)
Paskenta Band donates $125K to buy new vehicle for firefighters (2/11)
Man pleads guilty for dealing meth on Mescalero Apache Nation (2/11)
Public high school gives up racist mascot in response to new law (2/11)
Morongo Band and San Manuel Band question fantasy sports bill (2/11)
Former Sac and Fox Nation casino employee charged with theft (2/11)
Jena Band of Choctaw Indians celebrates 3rd birthday of casino (2/11)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation again told it can't accept casino bids (2/11)
Editorial: Measure stops Lytton Band from pursuing new casinos (2/11)
Obama seeks another increase for Indian Health Service budget (2/10)
Six of 12 Indian Health Service area directors in 'acting' capacity (2/10)
Lakota Country Times: Indian lawmakers oppose drug testing bill (2/10)
Vince Two Eagles: The rez of the story about treaty-making in US (2/10)
Kristi Noem: Indian Health Service remains in state of emergency (2/10)
Chase Iron Eyes: Real sovereigns don't disenroll their own people (2/10)
Gyasi Ross: African and Native Americans fought for their survival (2/10)
Albert Bender: Tribes should reclaim land from unratified treaties (2/10)
John Lavelle: Supreme Court weighs key tribal sovereignty issue (2/10)
Women take top three leadership positions at Menominee Nation (2/10)
Northern Arapaho Tribe seeking to repatriate remains of students (2/10)
White Mountain Apache Tribe considers change to blood quantum (2/10)
Blackfeet Nation citizens still talking about constitutional reforms (2/10)
Sweat lodge at Army post helps with PTSD treatment for veterans (2/10)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes welcome return of land (2/10)
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders win big in New Hampshire vote (2/10)
Prairie Island Indian Community unveils $19M gaming expansion (2/10)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approves upgrades at casinos (2/10)
Seminole Tribe's gaming compact takes a step forward in Florida (2/10)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation insists on pursuing Connecticut casino (2/10)
National campaign launched to stop tribal disenrollment epidemic (2/9)
President Obama seeks $2.9B budget for Bureau of Indian Affairs (2/9)
Office of Special Trustee budget request remains steady at $140M (2/9)
Bureau of Reclamation emphasizes tribal water rights settlements (2/9)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.