indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Harlan McKosato: Unprecedented Navajo Nation election cycle (4/21)
Native Sun News: County addresses spiritual needs of inmates (4/20)
Lakota Country Times: Families come together to fight suicide (4/20)
Applications available for Cobell settlement scholarship funds (4/20)
Matt Remle: Disenrollment is a tool of colonialism and conquest (4/20)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal sovereignty or original independence? (4/20)
John Guenther: Tribes should not allow marijuana on their land (4/20)
Dolph Hatfield: A conversation about NFL team's racist mascot (4/20)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Wisconsin treaty rights (4/20)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on BIA recognition reform (4/20)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules meeting and hearing (4/20)
National Park Service proposes rule for tribal gathering of plants (4/20)
St. Croix Band debate over marijuana leads to restraining order (4/20)
Husband of late Wilma Mankiller 'excited' for Woman on 20s bid (4/20)
Swinomish Tribe pledges to offset losses in local property taxes (4/20)
Shingle Springs Band scales back outdoor shooting range plans (4/20)
Gyasi Ross releases spoken word album 'Isskootsik' on May 12 (4/20)
Tribes seek access to criminal system in child placement cases (4/20)
Mohegan Tribe supports re-election of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (4/20)
Distributor brings beef produced on reservations to the market (4/20)
Guilty pleas and sentences for Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption (4/20)
Opinion: Media ignores tribal ownership of our water in Arizona (4/20)
Column: Telling the truth about the Ramapough Lunaape Nation (4/20)
Fort Silll Apache Tribe continues push for casino in New Mexico (4/20)
Nooksack Tribe can't pay back $15M loan for struggling casino (4/20)
Woman from Mashantucket Tribe loses casino per capita ruling (4/20)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation drops 'rogue casino' on state (4/20)
Native Sun News: A ride-along with a South Dakota county sheriff (4/17)
Lakota Country Times: Sen. Tester pushes for tribal college funds (4/17)
Native Sun News: Walk hits uranium mining sites on reservations (4/17)
Brandon Ecoffey: Vincent Brewer was a family man and a cowboy (4/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restoring our sacred peak to its original name (4/17)
Clara Caufield: A faithful servant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe (4/17)
Steve Russell: Shocking students with the truth about US history (4/17)
Sunnie Clahchischiligi: Get on board with Ho-Chunk Nation player (4/17)
Navajo Nation candidates enter final stretch of bumpy campaign (4/17)
Man from Tulalip Tribes enters not guilty plea to firearms charge (4/17)
Colorado lawmaker continues tradition of bolo ties on Capitol Hill (4/17)
Editorial: End discrimination against Native Americans in Michigan (4/17)
Editorial: Virginia's tribes need federal recognition from Congress (4/17)
Indiana lawmakers not so welcoming to Pokagon Band casino bid (4/17)
Arizona agency threatens to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (4/17)
Kansas seeks injunction to stop Quapaw Tribe gaming expansion (4/17)
Mohegan Tribe's casino enterprise named one of best employers (4/17)
Native Sun News: Senate field hearing focuses on tribes and coal (4/16)
Lakota Country Times: Program brings healthy food to Pine Ridge (4/16)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Death rituals among the Mohawk people (4/16)
James Giago Davies: Just another crazy breed Lakota in the IHS (4/16)
Karin Eagle: UNITY media summit draws people to reservation (4/16)
Walt Lamar: Addicts in Indian Country turning to spiked heroin (4/16)
Congress passes renewal of Indian Country diabetes program (4/16)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee takes up tribal labor measure (4/16)
Sen. Barrasso highlights 100 days of work on Indian legislation (4/16)
Alaska to make changes to Indian Child Welfare Act procedures (4/16)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe council meeting ends in shouting match (4/16)
Manitoba agrees to pay funeral bill for murdered Native woman (4/16)
New York City approves marker where Indian slaves were sold (4/16)
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.