Energy cost, use a common issue for tribal councils
January 25, 2011
By Teddy Willoya in Alaska Dispatch: During the week of Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to interview five different tribal councils in the Yukon River drainage, inquiring about the most pressing issues they are dealing with at their meetings. I spoke with tribal councils in Alukanuk, Pilot Station, Shageluk, Galena, and Fort Yukon. All five of these councils had a lot of work to keep them busy and numerous issues that need to be resolved.
Most of these issues relate to improving environmental and economic conditions in the villages. For instance, some of the councils noted difficulties with the removal of hazardous waste. Others were working on getting funding to fix up existing homes to make them energy efficient. Energy efficiency and the high price of heating fuel seem to be an issue that most rural villages are struggling with.
Alukanuk’s main issue from their recent tribal meeting was the accumulation of backhaul items in their dump. Some of these items included refrigerators, snowmachines, four-wheelers, and freezers. Those items have been building up because the tribe doesn’t have any employees with hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER) certification to prepare the items for removal. Freon must be removed from the freezers, and hazardous fluids must be drained from snowmachines and four-wheelers prior to transport from the village. Alukanuk ran out of funding for its landfill project in September 2009. Alukanuk lacks a grant writing employee in its tribal office, and they need somebody who can write grants for various issues that their village needs to mitigate, such as the landfill project and subsistence related issues. The tribal council is working toward getting some of their community members trained so they can begin to address some of their pressing issues. Read more