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
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian 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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe celebrates historic victories (7/1)
Brandon Ecoffey: Attorney general is no friend to Indian Country (7/1)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Education system continues to oppress us (7/1)
National Park Service finalizes rule for tribal gathering of plants (6/30)
Five tribes donate over $500K to Democratic party's convention (6/30)
Bureau of Indian Affairs still hoping to reach land-into-trust goal (6/30)
Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe secures proclamation for 410 acres (6/30)
Seminole Tribe takes a big step forward with land-into-trust bid (6/30)
Tohono O'odham Nation signs health self-governance compact (6/30)
Native Sun News: Lakota and Cheyenne people join forces again (6/30)
Lakota Country Times: Paper continues to reach large audience (6/30)
Cronkite News: Senate committee takes on tribal water issues (6/30)
Dave Archambault: A day for all of Indian Country to remember (6/30)
Vi Waln: Don't let politics get in way of our children's education (6/30)
Leonard Peltier: My last best hope for freedom lies with Obama (6/30)
Shinnecock Nation weighs options to reclaim ancestral territory (6/30)
White Mountain Apache Tribe welcomes 'significant' discovery (6/30)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes press for water pact (6/30)
Mille Lacs Band slams county for ending law enforcement deal (6/30)
County might end Grand Traverse Band land-into-trust appeal (6/30)
Tlingit and Haida Tribes acquire government contracting firm (6/30)
Donald Trump approved Indian gaming attack ads in New York (6/30)
Judge focuses on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino decision (6/30)
Eastern Cherokee youth push for change in gaming per capita (6/30)
Buena Vista Rancheria signs updated Class III casino compact (6/30)
Connecticut tribes still working on plan for potential new casino (6/30)
Effort builds for missing and murdered Native women and girls (6/29)
Native talent among diverse group asked to join film academy (6/29)
Richard Peterson: New era of tribal-state cooperation in Alaska (6/29)
Mark Trahant: A Native champion on the ballot in South Dakota (6/29)
Lakota Country Times: Outdoor movies a success at Pine Ridge (6/29)
Delphine Red Shirt: American history ignores tribal perspective (6/29)
Gabe Galanda: The growing chorus against tribal disenrollment (6/29)
Woman from Crow Tribe dies after brutal attack on reservation (6/29)
Man charged with murdering girlfriend on Fort Peck Reservation (6/29)
Nooksack Tribe fires elder who spoke out against disenrollment (6/29)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe gets ready for 95th annual powwow (6/29)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation members serve on city commission (6/29)
A Tribe Called Red goes to Alaska next month for Native benefit (6/29)
Sorry but DNA tests cannot confirm a person's Native ancestry (6/29)
Church denies connection to vandalism at Otomi site in Mexico (6/29)
Former Choctaw Nation casino worker gets two months for theft (6/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation shares $1.2M from controversial casino (6/29)
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.