Indigenous villages in Alaska have begun recovery efforts after a storm devastated the state’s western coastline over the weekend.
On Saturday, the governor declared a disaster and is preparing to request federal assistance to help with recovery efforts.
Five communities were heavily impacted, according to the state.
Many others are also dealing with severe storm impacts.
Communities scattered along nearly 1,000 miles of Bering and Chukchi Sea coastline saw severe flooding, damage to airport runways, loss of power and some communities were put on boil water advisories.
The storm claimed smokehouses and fish drying racks.
The damage to those resources is serious.
People in most of the communities impacted rely heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing for food. There have also been reports that fish, berries and meat gathered this summer and already put away for winter has been lost.
With winter fast approaching in Alaska, it’s unclear how construction materials and supplies to repair damages will be delivered in communities hardest hit.
The summer season to deliver these kinds of shipments by ocean barge is coming to a close.
In recent years, Alaska coastal communities have seen an increase in the severity and frequency of fall season storms due to climate change.
The season is only beginning.
A Tlingit clan house in Sitka, AK, was recently returned to its home clan after decades.
Its new legal owner hopes the historic exchange will spur a greater conversation about repatriation. KCAW’s Tash Kimmell reports.
In Sitka, AK this July, a Kiksadi clan house was repatriated after nearly 20 years in the possession of another clan.
Jerrick Hope-Lang, a Juneau-based member of the Kiksadi clan, now holds the deed.
Although no longer physically standing, Hope-Lang says the Point House still holds immense cultural significance.
“Conceptually, we all know that we refer to our people as from the point house, so the physical structure may not exist. But we as a people do. So the concept of the house being gone. That’s just a physical structure.”
Now, he plans to have the house rebuilt as a “mixed use” gathering space.
He hopes the revitalization of his clan house will spark a broader conversation around repatriation.
“I think it starts here with this land back concept, and how we identify that as individual clans, beyond our tribes and how we move forward in that and act in that. I’m excited that future Kiksadi children can walk into a place and say, this is my clan house.”
According to the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, there were once 43 standing clan houses in Sitka’s Indian Village District. Now only 9 remain.
This would be the first 21st century clan house built in Sitka.
One of the few remaining clan houses in Sitka is the Porch House. Chuck Miller is its caretaker.
“I mean, growing up for me here, I live down the street literally. And I remember coming into this clan house when I was a very small young child. And having all my family here family functions, meetings, food, etc. having a clan house rebuilt here would be something pretty huge I think, and applaud the Kiksadis for wanting to get this done and taken care of.”
After 25 years as caretaker, Miller says the Porch House is more than a building, it’s a point of pride. Hope-Lang wants to see the exact same thing for Point House – for the clan house —to be rebuilt now or at least in the lifetime of those generous enough to return it.
Editor’s Note; Hope-Lang urged KCAW to respect the privacy of the two former owners of Point House. KCAW obtained the deed to independently verify the donors, but agreed not to interview them for this story.
The Navajo Nation on Monday issued a health advisory to inform Navajo people of three new confirmed cases of monkeypox on the reservation.
The total number of cases is now four.
In each case, it appears the virus was caught off of the Navajo Nation.
The first monkeypox case on Navajo land was confirmed in August.
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