Indigenous communities up and down Alaska’s west coast are still reeling from an historic storm that slammed into the state over the weekend.
In Chevak, 136 miles west of Bethel, the Native Village and the City declared a state of emergency during a joint meeting Tuesday.
The emergency declaration is effective immediately and comes after the remnants of Typhoon Merbok destroyed dozens of boats people use for fishing and hunting.
Many people in the Cup’ik community also report losing fishing nets, dry houses, racks, and other gear and equipment essential to the Indigenous subsistence lifestyle in Western Alaska.
Dozens of fishing and hunting camps miles upriver are also likely destroyed. Most people haven’t had time yet to check.
Residents in the village of nearly 1000 people are still advised to boil their drinking water four days after floodwaters from the storm inundated the community’s drinking water system.
The city and tribal council plan to use the community’s VHF radio system Wednesday to broadcast more information about the emergency declaration and how residents can seek assistance in create an inventory of their losses.
Communities throughout the region still have weeks of work ahead to assess damages and prepare for winter freeze up which is only weeks away.
The Alaska Native community in Anchorage is coming together Wednesday night for a fundraiser and donation drop off site to help people impacted by the storm on the west coast.
The potluck-style event will include a silent auction and raffles.
The community will be gathering donations of clothing, winter gear, boots, jackets, and canned goods.
The event at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is being hosted by First Alaskans Institute, Native Peoples Action, Native Movement, American Red Cross, and the Rasmuson Foundation.
The U.S. Justice Department is holding a tribal consultation in Anchorage this week on violence against women.
The agency will host nearly 600 participants including 55 tribal leaders.
They’ll provide recommendations to the agency on funding, programs, and enhancing the safety of Alaska Native and American Indian women, and ways to improve access to crime information databases and criminal justice information systems.
National Voter Registration Day was Tuesday to raise awareness of voter registration opportunities and reach voters who may not register otherwise.
As Eric Tegethoff reports, a Native vote group in Montana is working to make sure people are ready for the November election.
With less than two months to go until Election Day, efforts to ensure people can cast their ballots are ramping up.
Natanya O’Neill, field director for Western Native Voice, said her group has been working in communities to check voters’ registration status, which will make it easier on Nov 8.
“They have all of the information that they need, they’re prepared, got their identification with them, and they know that they are able to vote. With the changes in the laws last year, it is a learning curve for a lot of people.”
In 2021, Montana lawmakers passed legislation affecting voter registration.
One measure tightens voter identification laws so people who are registering with a student ID, for instance, need a secondary form of identification.
Another measure eliminates Election Day voter registration, requiring people to sign up to vote by the Friday before Election Day.
A judge in Yellowstone County District Court has heard challenges to both laws and could make decisions on their legality before the November election.
In the meantime, O’Neill emphasized people should be prepared to vote in what will be a consequential election.
Because of the 2020 census results, Montana will have two congressional districts for the first time in 30 years.
“With the changes in the congressional seats that we’ve got, we need to make sure that people are aware of how much this will impact them,” O’Neill urged.
Montana is also in the middle of redistricting on the state level, although maps will not be finalized until after the election.
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