The National Congress of American Indians is hosting a Violence Against Women Act Tribal Leader Town Hall Wednesday. It follows last week’s approval of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA) by Congress included in a bipartisan appropriations deal (Omnibus Spending Package for Fiscal Year 2022). VAWA provisions help strengthen safety in Native communities including a pilot program to allow some Alaska Native villages to exercise tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian offenders. Akiak Chief Mike Williams Sr. says it’s good for Alaska and all of Indian Country.
“We’ve been working so hard over the long years, especially here in Alaska when we are dealing with 229 federally recognized tribes (in Alaska) to empower each community is a goal to deal with these issues.”
Tribal leaders will review provisions in the law and discuss next steps for Tribal Nations. *UPDATE date changed-NCAI’s town hall 3/22/22
The federal government will fund relocation efforts for six Alaska communities threatened by erosion and flooding. Most are in the YK Delta, where erosion and flooding are pervasive problems. KYUK’s Olivia Ebertz reports, the projects will play out over time, and other threatened communities can still apply for funding.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in early March [3/4/22] that it will pay for Alaska communities to relocate buildings and infrastructure. The communities whose projects have already been funded include Kotlik, Alakanuk, Kwigillingok, Golovin, Tuntutuliak and Tununak. What do they have in common? They’re all threatened by erosion and flooding.
“We are very excited,” said Brett Nelson, conservation engineer for USDA.
His team has worked to provide flood and erosion mitigation around rural Alaska for years. He knows the communities and their needs. Nelson says this type of federal funding is a big deal. That’s because it’s a first. Usually, the federal government only funds his department to relocate buildings when there’s an emergency, like when a home or building is about to fall into a river. But this funding will be preventative–so communities can begin their relocation efforts before it’s too late.
“This was a new thing for up here,” said Nelson.
Nelson says the entire process will take about five years. It involves multiple stages of planning before they can move into the actual construction and relocation part. But he says if any one building in those communities becomes urgently threatened, they can speed up the process for those structures. The application is still open for Alaska villages. Any village with an erosion, flooding or permafrost issue is eligible to receive funding.
Twenty trainees will learn the traditional role of fire in managing the landscape this week outside Chiloquin, Oregon, as KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.
The week-long training mirrors a similar program held outside Eugene last fall. Multiple agencies and Native American tribes from across Oregon are helping stage the burn, which will be on two acres of private land. Derek Kimbol is a Klamath tribal member who participated in last year’s training, and is helping coordinate this week’s program.
“Our goals are to provide forest resiliency and to diminish wildfires, so the forest is healthy and it won’t catch into a big mega-fire.”
Before colonization, Indigenous people did controlled burns to rejuvenate habitat and reduce fuel buildup. Kimbol says he’s heartened that after a century of fire suppression, non-tribal governments are becoming more open to what many Native people call “cultural burns,” patterned after the practices of their ancestors.
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