Countless Western Alaskans have lost subsistence resources, food, and even camps that tie them to their land.
Residents are devastated and processing what the loss means to them and their families.
Various agencies are still assessing the scope of damage from the storm, as KNOM’s Davis Hovey reports.
Melanie Bahnke, CEO of Kawerak Inc., shared with KNOM listeners on Wednesday that the damage to subsistence cabins goes beyond loss of buildings.
“We’ve got several people who have lost their subsistence cabins and their boats. And we all know that our subsistence cabins aren’t just recreational. They are means for our food security but also for our cultural continuation and they connect us to the land and our ancestors.”
Bahnke’s point about the cultural connection being affected by the storm has been echoed again and again by Western Alaskans.
Darlene Trigg is one of many Nome residents who no longer has a camp for her family to enjoy. It was completely washed away by the storm.
“My Mom and Dad took it upon themselves to make sure all of the kids had subsistence foods, and it all happened there. My earliest memories are in that building, around that land. It’s a part of the foundation of who I am…it’s built into my identity.”
Throughout the region, residents have talked about the impact this storm had on their subsistence lifestyle.
Daisy Lockwood Katcheak, the City Administrator in Stebbins told KNOM her community will not have as much food for winter.
“100% of the fish racks and fishing supplies for all our subsistence fishermen are gone.”
The community is requesting food deliveries from various agencies to help sustain them over the coming days.
Alaska’s Congressional Delegation has sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to approve a request by Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) request for a major disaster declaration in Western Alaska.
Friday is California Native American Day. This year, the day is the first-ever paid holiday for court workers.
Native State Rep. James Ramos (D-CA) successfully introduced a bill in 2021 to allow court personnel to switch Columbus Day for California Native American Day.
Ahead of the holiday this week, Ramos talked about the effort and celebrated with bird singers and court officials at the San Bernardino Superior Court, which was streamed live online.
“We’re here standing strong for all of our ancestors and the atrocities that has been afflicted upon them for once and for all have a paid holiday to recognize the contributions and the attributions by the California Indian people to the state of California. And we start with the first paid holiday in the state of California, the whole state. The whole judicial system all 58 counties to join together in honoring California’s first people.
Judiciary personnel holidays are set in a civil procedure and the change required legislation. Other staff are covered in a government code.
The measure amended that to recognize the holiday. It does not create an additional paid holiday just an exchange.
The bill was supported by tribes and Native organizations.
On Thursday, members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation introduced legislation to help the Puyallup Tribe place more than 17 acres of land into trust to spur economic development.
The tribe wants to pursue opportunities at the Port of Tacoma and on the Tacoma waterfront.
The proposal is supported by the city, county, and the state’s governor.
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