indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
Native Sun News: Alcohol a common factor in Rapid City murders (1/29)
Ivan Star: Ignoring alcoholism leads to destruction of the Lakota (1/29)
John Barrasso: Empowering Indian Country in the GOP Congress (1/29)
Criminal charges possible over mistreatment of Indian students (1/29)
Seneca Nation doesn't foresee taking action on legal marijuana (1/29)
Elderly member of Colville Tribes seriously injured in hit and run (1/29)
Fifteen charged over theft of Yakama Nation scholarship money (1/29)
Judge orders self-proclaimed 'shaman' back to custody in Texas (1/29)
Nevada City Rancheria objects to leasing of land to another tribe (1/29)
Mississippi Choctaws to hold grand opening for new $55M hospital (1/29)
Opinion: Celebrate the Native origin of the Seattle Seahawks logo (1/29)
First Nations Experience to grow with $6M from San Manuel Band (1/29)
Governor won't rethink Menominee Nation off-reservation casino (1/29)
Cayuga Nation back in court to defend Class II gaming operation (1/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in revenue at gaming enterprise (1/29)
Gaming machines at non-Indian tracks stir controversy in Idaho (1/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes ask Obama to deny Keystone XL permit (1/28)
Native Sun News: Native youth take stand against Keystone bid (1/28)
Tara Houska: Respect treaties and reject Keystone XL Pipeline (1/28)
Mark Trahant: Obama administration steps up for environment (1/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds first meeting & hearing (1/28)
House committee won't restore Indian and Alaska Native panel (1/28)
Opinion: Affordable Care Act offers behavorial health services (1/28)
Sami Jo Difuntorum: Support needed for Indian housing update (1/28)
Albert Bender: Stop glorification of Indian killer Andrew Jackson (1/28)
Amanda Blackhorse: Navajo leader defends racist NFL mascot (1/28)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Our kids should be able to go anywhere (1/28)
Police probe racist treatment of Oglala youth at hockey game (1/28)
College basketball player proud to serve as Native role model (1/28)
Auburn Community buys stake in rock music festival company (1/28)
Former Pueblo leader ready to change plea in $3.6M theft case (1/28)
Young member of Meskwaki Tribe pleads guilty in murder case (1/28)
Mississippi Choctaws to debut casino after $70M in renovations (1/28)
Catawba Nation waits for BIA decision on off-reservation casino (1/28)
Member of Chehalis Tribe working on $40M expansion of casino (1/28)
Opinion: Decision on Menominee Nation casino makes no sense (1/28)
Editorial: Approve off-reservation casino for Ho-Chunk Nation (1/28)
Native Sun News: Chair of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe blasts report (1/27)
Native Sun News: Lummi Nation eyes halt to coal export project (1/27)
House Natural Resources Committee set to hold first meeting (1/27)
First-ever conference to focus on marijuana in Indian Country (1/27)
Fort Peck Tribes moving towards full legalization of marijuana (1/27)
8th Circuit rules against Indian inmate in religious rights case (1/27)
Jennifer Denetdale: Film glosses over violence in border towns (1/27)
Isadore Boni: An Apache AIDS survivor completes first marathon (1/27)
Osage Nation expects to see $7.4M in Cobell consolidation offers (1/27)
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.