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KYUK: Leadership dispute threatens Native village relocation

The current site of Newtok village. Photo from Alaska Department of Commerce Relocation Report

KYUK reports on an ongoing leadership dispute within the Alaska Native village of Newtok:
The latest round of Bering Sea storms beat up the Southwest Alaska coastline, including Newtok. The community’s move to the Mertarvik site on Nelson Island may be more pressing than ever, but the long relocation process is in a holding pattern due to a tribal council dispute.

Residents in Newtok have known for years that their community faces serious risks with rapidly advancing erosion. The November storms pushed water up to the community’s essential infrastructure. Stanley Tom describes himself as the tribal administrator for the traditional council. That is for the old council, which does not have support of the BIA or the state.

“It’s really bad, I mean the erosion is really near, the fuel header is being impacted right now, it just around the erosion and the water source is getting there, our last water source will be impacted next summer,” said Tom.

The struggle between the old and new council led to a wasted 2013 construction season at the emergency shelter at the new site. The dispute is built around the idea that the old council did not hold elections for 7 years. In October of last year, elections were held and the old council was voted out.

Get the Story:
Newtok’s Relocation Effort Slowed By An Ongoing Tribal Dispute (KYUK 11/26)

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

Related Stories:
Leadership dispute puts hold on relocation of Native village (11/12)
GAO report reviews funding for Alaska Native villages (12/15)

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