Archive for July, 2009

Eagle: Rebuilding Master Plan Coming Together…

July 31, 2009

eagle house

It’s working!

Jul 31, 2009

Good news from Eagle! Residents. working side-by-side with volunteers from around the country, are well on their way toward meeting the goal of building thirteen log homes in Eagle by September 12 to replace homes that were washed away in the ice flood last spring.

As we pause to provide an update we bid farewell to eleven Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) volunteer builders and welcome 14 fresh recruits. Lessons learned by the first crew will be passed on by three MDS volunteers that will be staying on, and by residents of Eagle who have been working side-by-side with the MDS volunteers.

In two weeks time the exterior walls are nearing completion on three homes, and roof trusses are beginning to take shape on one. The start of a fourth home and delivery of the logs for two additional homes coincided with the arrival of the new crew.  We are well on our way towards meeting the goal of building thirteen log homes in Eagle by September 12.

Other groups pitching in have been Samaritan’s Purse, LightShine Ministies and the Boy Scouts.

The Bureau of Land Management waived fees at beautiful Ft. Egbert campground and individuals are helping out while camping out.

Christina Young, a pilot spending her fourth summer flying throughout Alaska,  dropped in to help and a canoeist, paddling the Yukon River, stopped and volunteered for couple of days – just a couple of the many individuals donating their time and energy to the rebuilding frenzy.

It seems like the gravel and log home kits are making it to Eagle in time – an amazing example of bureaucracy and community working together.

But these are not Lincoln log homes that fit together perfectly. Those assembling the kits still need hardware and tools.

Eagle’s website has a list of needed items so I asked Eagle’s Volunteer Coordinator, Rob Paire, what the best address to send flat rate boxes of smaller items would be.

We are really working on two fronts, the first front is demolition of the old houses, the second is construction of new houses. Both fronts are going well at the moment.

Also I have not had time to update the needs list for quite some time, and I have received many donations so sorry. The most helpful thing for us to deal with is cash donations.

Look at the list. It seems like someone at the state or federal level should have realized you can’t rebuild a town without nails, ladders, saw horses and levels and had all these items in place when the kit homes arrived.

While the former governor was conducting a farewell tour and picnic series, private citizens were sending battery operated drills and nails to Eagle.

We can only hope that the next administration is  better equipped to address the challenges that face rural Alaskans.

* * *

The Warm Hearts Fund, set up by Big Ray’s in Fairbanks, is collecting monetary donations to help Eagle residents replace winter survival gear that was lost in the flood. This is a convenient way to make sure our neighbors are snug both inside and outside their new homes next winter.

Rural Alaska Outreach Day – Aug 12, 2009

July 25, 2009

Jul 25, 2009

Remember a while back we voiced skepticism when the NPFMC, in answer to waves of criticism for their lack of rural input in determining the salmon bycatch cap, announced the creation of a Rural Community Outreach Committee?

NPFMC: Fishing Dismal – Let’s Take a Road Trip!

The committee will hold meetings in urban areas and invite tribal and Native leaders, he said. Council members and staff will also travel to predominantly Native rural Alaska to meet with people there.

So where do they kick it off? In Anchorage on August 12.

A group meant to inform rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives about federal fishery issues will meet for the first time in August.

The seven-member Rural Community Outreach Committee will serve as an advisory group to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

And what else that might be of interest to rural Alaskans is happening August 12? President Obama’s Rural Tour is making a stop in Bethel.

The August 12 visit to Bethel will include Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack. They’ll be discussing rural infrastructure, green jobs and climate change, the White House said.

It seems that every time there’s a problem in Alaska they create a new committee, agency or board. Six months from now this will probably be the RCOC – a bland addition to Alaska’s recipe for alphabet soup. Will it be an improvement?

Starting off with the first meeting in Anchorage at a time when most rural dwellers are busy preparing for winter isn’t very sensitive, especially when the agenda for this meeting will set the stage for future meetings.

On the agenda:

Review purpose of the committee per Council direction:

1)  to advise the Council on how to provide opportunities for better understanding and participation from AK Native and rural communities;

2)  to provide feedback on community impacts sections of specific analyses; and

3)  to provide recommendations regarding which proposed Council actions need a

specific outreach plan and prioritize multiple actions when necessary.

•  Discuss how the meetings will be conducted (e.g., consensus vs. vote; no-host, etc.)

•  Discuss frequency & location of meetings

•  Budget information/considerations

Probably the most significant indicator that this will be a less than effective solution to the problems facing rural Alaskans is that the members of the committee are not struggling to feed their families and heat their homes come winter.

The committee is no-host, as are all Council committees, so members must pay for their own travel and accommodations.

The NPFMC newsletter states clearly what the committee isn’t:

Note that this committee is not intended as the primary mechanism for community input on specific Council actions, instead, it is intended to assist the Council in improving the overall outreach process and analyses relevant to community and Native concerns.

So here’s a list of committee members who have the means to serve on this committee – are they your neighbors?

Committee members are as follows: Eric Olson (Chair), Duncan Fields (Council member), Pete Probasco, Paula Cullenberg, Jennifer Hooper, Ole Olsen, and Tom Okleasik. The intent is to have a committee meeting over the summer and report back to the Council in the fall/winter.

Rural Alaskans, pool your money and send a delegation to Bethel on August 12. Once there, corner Ken Salazar and explain to him about bycatch and why he needs to look closely at the NPFMC bycatch cap before he approves it. The ROCO is not the answer!

~ Jane

A glimpse into the Future? I hope not!

July 21, 2009
Nunam Iqua's Potlatch (annual meeting) 2009

Nunam Iqua’s Potlatch 2009.  Nick Tucker is seen in the plaid shirt.

Jul 21, 2009

My family is spending the summer in Ugashik fishing.   I was given a glimpse into the future – an eye opening experience that made me stop and think:  “I hope my people, the Yup’iks, do not end up like this!”

Since I have been in the Bristol Bay region I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of Tribal meetings.  My thoughts going into these varies from excitement at seeing another community’s culture and traditions, to wondering how local politics operate here compared to Nunam Iqua on the Lower Yukon River delta.

Unfortunately, my excitement about the prospect of learning about the culture and traditions of another village was  immediately let down.  I walked into an annual meeting expecting to see celebrations of Native culture, pride in being Native and efforts to keep their Native ways, language, and culture alive in this ever westernized world we now live in.

I donned my traditional kuspaq thinking that since this was their annual meeting, everyone would be celebrating their heritage and culture.  I was so wrong with that train of thought!   There was nothing that I saw which even hinted that this was a Tribal meeting.  There appeared to be no Native aspect involved at all.  Not once did I hear a single Native word uttered.  Not once did I see any tradition that I could remotely relate to keeping their culture intact.  The only thing I observed was a whole lot of squabbling and discussions of money.  Money here, money there, money, money (or lack there of) everywhere!

In all of the money discussion I expected to hear  about spending money on programs to help protect and sustain or even recapture their Native culture, traditions, or language.  Nothing!  My heart began to ache for these people.

This is just the meeting portion, surely at the potluck dinner there will be more culture evident…  They set up the buffet of BBQ and potluck dishes and I am happily surprised to see two things happen.  First they did offer Grace, and second they honored the elders by allowing them to serve themselves first.   I stood there and anxiously waited to see what types of Native foods will be offered and wondering what new dishes I will be introduced to.   What Native foods do they enjoy here compared to the dishes on the Yukon?  Certainly there will be fry bread?  I have never been to a Native gathering that didn’t include fry bread!

Fry bread I made in Nunam earlier this year.

Fry bread

I looked down the table at the offerings.   I took a plate and  I am handed a hamburger bun.  So here is the fare:  chicken casserole with broccoli, shredded BBQ beef and pork, shredded carrot raisin salad, potato salad, fruit salad, green salad, snack mix, corn, green beans, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mt. Dew and Coke, juice, and coffee.  For dessert there was pumpkin pie, pineapple upside down cake, ice cream and Otter pops.

Where’s the fish?  Where’s the fry bread?  Where’s the akutaq?  Even Rollie was surprised that there were no corn fritters which he fondly remembers from his childhood growing up here.   I would expect this type of buffet in any south, Midwest or western town gathering.  Everything tasted delicious, but I was sorely disappointed that I didn’t get to try any new Native foods…sigh.

I noticed something else, looking around at everyone there…why isn’t anyone dressed in any Native clothing?  I am the only one…the solitary person who has donned any type of traditional clothing.  Everyone else is in jeans or sweats and t-shirts, and a few with dressy shirts.  Surely some of the women must have beadwork on?  A pair of beaded earrings or a beaded hair pin…nope.  Just me.

I began to think to myself:  “Is this what will happen to my people 100 years from now?  Will we have completely given up our cultural customs and become westernized by only fishing to make money?  Will we have lost all semblance of our heritage?  Will our children and our children’s children never know their native language, traditions, culture?  Will my people only squabble about money and give up the fight for these Native ways?”

I have now come to treasure every detail of my life back home in Nunam Iqua.  We are definitely PROUD of our NATIVE heritage and culture!  If you were to come to Nunam Iqua when we have our annual meeting, which we call a Potlatch, there would be absolutely no doubt in your mind that we are Native and darn proud of it, too!

Not only will I ensure that my children and god-willing my grand children will know where they came from but also they will learn their language, culture and traditions!  And I will also, do everything in my power to ensure that my nieces, nephews, cousins and others know these as well!

How did this happen?  Where did their culture and traditions go?  How can you claim to be a Tribe and not have any traditional practices other than fishing?  Where’s your language?  Why doesn’t anyone dance?  Or sing?  What caused this total loss of their Native heritage?  It’s not like there are big cities out here, this is very rural Alaska.  Don’t you have to keep your culture and traditions alive to survive?   How do we keep it from happening to my Yup’ik culture?

Although I mourn for these people and what they have lost not knowing or sharing their culture, traditions and language – I am grateful that I have been given this glimpse of what the future could hold for other Native villages across Alaska if we don’t take the time to fight for the old ways.  It was like stepping into the future and receiving a warning…

Victoria Briggs: More and More Grizzlies!

July 20, 2009

cubs

Grizzly cubs

Jul 20, 2009

This year, actually the last two years, we seem to have an increased population of brown bears, grizzlies to others, in and around the village. Given that the Alaska Peninsula is an area just behind Kodiak for trophy bears ‘taken’ this does not surprise any of us.

This is one reason given by the state for not doing some predator control to help save our dwindling moose and hardly surviving caribou herds. Residents are NOT happy, but little can be done right now about it.

Daylight sightings have increased tremendously this year, even over last year’s higher incidents.

Yesterday our processing crew let us know they had spotted a pair of cubs on the beach heading toward the plant.

Gundo came up to the house to get a gun just in case they got into too much trouble or their mom showed up.

We see tracks on the beach by the processing plant on a regular basis but to have them wandering around the house getting into things is a little unusual.

These two guys decided they did not want to continue to come toward the sounds and smells of people and headed off.

I am hoping these little guys did not loose their mother cause if they did it is a slow starvation or being killed by bigger bears as an end to them.

The crew is doing lots of whistling and peeking around corners when heading out of their quarters at night after having a pile of poo left at their door step.

bears2

Fun times in the bush!!

~ Victoria

* * *

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Sleetmute, AK: Gas $6.10 a Gallon! (was $7.70)

July 16, 2009

gas

Jul 16, 2009

By now most villages have received their spring fuel deliveries and are reporting lower prices.

Alice Criswell, Public Affairs Director at KYUK radio in Bethel visited several villages on the Kuskokwim River and talked to residents about fuel deliveries and what prices are suspected to be in the coming winter.

In New Napakiak Walter Riley, business manager at New Napakiak Limited, told her gas has come down about a dollar to $5.35 a gallon and hopes the fall delivery will be a little better.

In Upper Kalskag city bookkeeper Denise Reed says gas is about a dollar cheaper than last year at $5.50 but they only have enough to last until the fall delivery in October. They did not receive heating fuel in the spring and will get their full fuel delivery in October.

In Sleetmute gas is $6.10 down from $7.70 and heating fuel $5.40 down from $7.85. Henry Hill of Hill Enterprises, a major fuel supplier, said Crowley, the barge operator that delivers fuel to the area, tried to charge him the same price as last year in order to get rid of inventory. He negotiated with the company and came to terms, but neither side was very happy.

Villages are expecting their fall deliveries in October. Last year the rivers froze in October and the fall fuel deliveries didn’t happen.

One thing happening in all the villages – people are ordering wood stoves and gathering firewood along the wooded banks of the Kuskokwim.

Listen to this story here. You can listen to the news from rural Alaska daily in English and Yupic on the station’s website.

Yukonbushgrma: Eagle Gets Gravel, Salmon

July 14, 2009

eagle

Jul 14, 2009

Being in Miami, I miss most of the late night activity on the Alaska blogs so it’s nice to wake up to a note like this in my inbox!

Hey Jane!

I thought I should write you first – because I’m a bit bewildered about how this thing all came about ….

A few days ago, I heard that our Disaster Center here in Eagle was going to receive over 400 pounds of king salmon – from Emmonak!  The Center got a phone call from Sen. Albert Kookesh’s office (he is the state senator for Eagle) asking if they wanted the salmon (duh – of course!), and it went from there.  The air freight and truck transport were all paid to get it to Eagle.  I’m assuming the Senator’s office handled the details.

So – 400+ pounds of beautiful salmon arrived in Eagle, and it was all distributed or used by the disaster kitchen.  (They baked 5 of them that night in the kitchen – mmmmmm, good!)

But we do not know who IN EMMONAK was responsible for this, or who to thank!

If you can help us out with this, that would be great …… it’s a mystery to us.  All we know is that Sen. Kookesh’s office arranged to have the salmon sent from Emmonak.

I would like to send a special and personal thanks via Anon Bloggers, as I know it would be appreciated there.

best –
yukonbushgrma
Eagle

Anyone have an answer to this mystery?

And there’s more good news from Eagle Village!

Yesterday lovemydogs posted this on Mudflat’s open thread:

My husband spoke with Andy Bassich in Eagle today and the word is they “think” they will have the gravel to start on pads for foundations tomorrow–yay! Apparently there has been a lot of bureaucratic red tape/paperwork with the state that had to be worked through.

They have enough skilled carpenters to start on the cabins as soon as the gravel is moved.

Yukonbushgrma thinks the state had been giving them the run-around but FEMA came in and negotiated a contract for the gravel and it’s a done deal.

And some not so good news…

YBG goes on to explain that it’s not all good news. Some of the homes that were destroyed were second homes and, because they are considered vacation homes, they are not eligible for relief funds.

She is particularly sad to see one person who has done so much for the Eagle relief effort slip through the cracks. Andy Bassich has been the driving force behind this disaster recovery success story…

Andy has been our saving grace since breakup began ….. he had the idea to build these cabins, and the idea grew into a vision that was embraced by both state and federal governments! This has never, ever been done before in the history of the US! Eagle is making history here, using local knowledge and know-how to decide how to best recover from a disaster.

Andy deserves a gold medal. But guess what? He is getting nothing. He is getting paid for his work right now, but getting nothing from the State of Alaska or FEMA. Because he has a small cabin (primary residence) in Eagle, and his cabin downriver, although it is his place of business (mushing and subsistence tourism), doesn’t qualify for any disaster assistance.

Andy Bassich deserves help from somewhere! This guy came up with the idea to get Eagle’s homeless people through the coming winter, and he has been there every day to coordinate the new volunteers and make sure the work is getting done every day. And …… he’s had to worry about the gravel.

Please, help me figure out how to help Andy!

Any ideas?

~ Jane

Big Ray’s  is offering a 20% discount to Eagle Village residents and distributing gift cards to those who need them most. Gift cards are $10 – increase the quantity to donate more.

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Is Anyone Doing Anything to Prevent Another Rural Crisis?

July 12, 2009

nick

Nicholas Tucker

Jul 12, 2009

It was a year ago today that Walt Monegan, then Department of Public Safety commissioner, was fired from his position as Alaska’s top cop. At the time of his departure Monegan warned of potential social unrest in rural Alaska because of poor fishing returns.

Given the gathering storm of a questionable fishing season, and the escalating price of fuel in our state, there will be serious stress placed upon communities and residents who will struggle with the coming winter’s challenges. Last week I had asked our Troopers and Fire Marshalls to outreach both to these communities, and to your departments in a cooperative effort to mitigate issues that will arise like: theft, domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide; and, accidental death that all can come from sinking reserves of fuel, money and hope. Teamwork will never be so important.

~ Walt Monegan, July 12, 2008

The problems facing rural Alaskans were discussed at the legislature’s Special Energy Session last August Les Garas reported in January, 2009

During last August’s energy special session, the press focused its attention on Gov. Palin’s plan to send Alaskans a $1,200 check. What went unreported was the call from rural Alaska for something better, and their warning of this winter’s impending crisis. Many legislators worked to replace Gov. Palin’s plan with one that would have gone a long way to relieving the pain being felt across rural Alaska today, and even in communities like Fairbanks, where high heating costs are a growing concern. I reported on the impending rural fuel crisis in my newsletter following last August’s Energy Special Session  (“Pushing Compassion: Walking A Mile In A Bethel Resident’s Shoes. . . . Giving everyone the same help, and ignoring that some people in this state are struggling while some are not, seemed like policy that could be improved upon a lot,” Aug. 11, 2008 Office Newsletter)

The early warning sighs were there last year but the crisis was not recognized until Nicolas Tucker spoke up about the dire situation families in Emmonak were facing on January 9, 2009.

I am reaching out for these families. Help is needed and cannot be delayed. I cannot imagine so many in this village are in hunger, without fuel, and other essentials and uncertain about their future. What is mind boggling about the whole situation is that they have remained silent, anonymous, suffered, and cried. The four villages in this region are in close proximity to each other and the demography is the same. Is this going on in your village?

The warning signs are there again, is anyone in government listening?

At the end of June the governor sent out this tweet:

John Moller just returned from Emmonak, reports 50% of residents have subsistence needs met already, others confident they can do the same.

When the Anchorage Daily News asked the governor’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, about the tweet she replied:

The good news – At the Federal Subsistence meeting in Emmonak last week, Nick Tucker reported that 50 percent of the residents have met subsistence needs and other 50 percent are confident they will meet their needs.

To which Nick Tucker replied:

I want them to take it back.

I’ve never said that. Ten times over, I’ve never said that. It was from one fisherman in Alakanuk.” I do not believe that we in Emmonak – Emmonak never said that.

He demanded an apology, Rural Advisor John Moller offered one and Nick has accepted, but now what?

Civil disobedience doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Residents of Marshall went fishing illegally and practically had to send out a press release to get the incident noticed.

A state wildlife trooper is headed to the village of Marshall to investigate subsistence fishermen who said they fished during a closed period in an act of civil disobedience.

The Yukon River fishermen told reporters they caught 100 king salmon on Friday to feed their elders and others in need.

Is anyone in a position of authority at the state or federal level doing anything to avoid a repeat of last year’s crisis?

Is anyone making sure winter fuel is in place or will be in place before the rivers freeze?

Is anyone sending in food by barge so it will be there when the preserved salmon runs out?

Is any research being done to decrease salmon bycatch by developing salmon safe nets similar to the dolphin safe nets that came about after a tuna boycott?

Is anyone working on anything to prevent another winter of donations and flat rate boxes?

If so, please let us know.

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Warm-Heart smallEagle Warm Hearts Fund

Buy gift cards for residents of Eagle who lost everything including their survival gear in the Yukon breakup!

Big Ray’s  is offering a 20% discount to Eagle Village residents and distributing gift cards to those who need them most. Gift cards are $10 – increase the quantity to donat more.

Victoria Briggs: Taking the Time For a Post!!

July 11, 2009

Jul 11, 2009

So much of this time of year in Alaska, at least the western parts that fish, is rush, rush, rush!!

You do any projects that need decent weather, earn most of your yearly income in a few short weeks and, if you can, get the relatives up to visit when it isn’t below freezing.

In the past few weeks I felt you needed to see part of what we try to sandwich in all this work, work and more work.

Time to view all the flowers, well some call them weeds, that spring up and give us color. Even 2 year olds of all species enjoy them!

sunset owls neon flowers 001

Eating as much fresh seasonal food as you can possibly stand. I used to do this with fresh peaches, cherries and berries when I was a kid, now it is salmon, specifically Sockeye. Don’t you love that darn deep red color, no dye included!!!

sunset owls neon flowers 002

Taking a few minutes to watch the sun go down on what is overall turning out to be a dry and warm/hot summer.

sunset owls neon flowers 004

Realizing all around us there are others looking for dinner. One of the Great Horn Owls that reside in the village came to spend the afternoon in our warehouse. The Robins and Swallows were having a fit having this young one so close to their nests and young.

sunset owls neon flowers 005

So in all of our rush and worrying about how the winter will be for all of us I am trying to remember to enjoy all that surrounds me here in our remote Alaskan village.

~ Victoria

This Land Was Their Land! It Still Is* But…

July 9, 2009

Jul 9, 2009

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

– Woodie Guthrie

Ojibwe-Learning-Basket

Ojibwe Language Learning Basket from NativeHarvest.com

One of the contributors to another blog mentioned her small Minnesota community’s embrace of the language of the local indigenous people.

“Aaniin” “Boozhoo” – customers to Bemidji’s Cabin Coffee House & Café are now welcomed in both Ojibwe and English.

Table tents show them numbers, animals and the major Red Lake clans in both languages. And they can try their Ojibwe language skills to order makade-mashkikiwaaboo (coffee) and naboob (soup).

You can read about it here.

I was gratified to see that in some communities of this big nation of ours, the “newcomers” actually respect “the first people”.

I replied in the other blog:

“I took note of your community’s embracing the dual languages of your Minnesota town: ‘Bemidji businesses adopt bilingual signage’. That’s an incredible step in the right direction. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other less-enlightened people would do the same?

“I take to heart what you wrote:  ‘mandatory’ and ‘language inspectors’ are ‘colonial and/or imperial concepts’ that we don’t have ‘time’ for any more….to quote otis halfmoon: …. in spite of all efforts to the contrary, we (original people) are still here, we are not going away, and it is time that the newcomers to this country (hemisphere) paid proper respect to the elder status of the first people of this land.”

That small Minnesota community respects the culture of the “original people” and embraces it.  Contrast that attitude with how Alaska Natives and all the other rural Alaskans living outside of cities and towns are largely ignored by THEIR state government.

Not only are the people restricted again this year from catching their needed supply of fish, but, without fish which some might have sold for income, they will not have enough money, yet again, to buy next winter’s expensive heating fuel!  What does it matter that many of the rural difficulties may be directly related to today’s (mis)management of fish and game subsistence by a state government that turns a blind eye to a ballistic out-of-control pricing structure for heating oil?  What a dilemma.

The winter fuel prices paid by the city dwellers are dramatically less than the rural people, yet all of them are Alaskans.  Can there not be some type of controlled pricing structure that will benefit ALL Alaskans?  I guess I’m asking what will it take for Alaska Natives and Native Alaskans to be treated as well as the city dwellers in Anchorage, Juneau, etc.?

Winter blizzards are coming again, are they not?  Is the time past even now to have helped these ancestral communities?  What will happen this next winter between the bitter winter cold, the expensive fuel, and the hundreds of hungry families who can’t stretch their limited money between the two separate choices of heating, or, feeding their families?

I just have to question how much help will the rural Alaskans get NEXT winter with the mindset of a government that uses religious groups and a plateful of cookies to bring relief to a couple of remote villages?

Question:  Is anything being done on a state level RIGHT NOW to acknowledge this recurring problem?  If not, we had better start pulling out our cookie recipes.  “Let them eat cookies”—Marie Antoinette was just confused, I guess…

~ Elsie

__________________________

* Passed in 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) extinguished Native land claims to almost all of Alaska in exchange for about one-ninth of the state’s land plus $962.5 million in compensation. By transferring Native land title to 12 regional and 200 local village corporations chartered under Alaska state law, ANCSA changed the relationship between Natives and the land from one of co-ownership of shared lands to one of corporate shareholding; i.e., land ownership was based on a corporate model, and governmental entities, including traditional or IRA “tribal” governments, were bypassed.

Eagle Village: Funds Coming for Homes, Need Gravel to Put Them On!!

July 4, 2009

eagleflood11

After the ice flood in Eagle Village

Jul 4, 2009

It looks like FEMA dollars could be in the hands of Eagle residents and log homes put on order as early as next week! Eagle Village resident Andy Bassich has much good news to share in his latest report.

Money is starting to arrive and volunteers are on hand to begin rebuilding Eagle Village but there’s one big problem – the Department of Transportation is dragging its feet in making gravel available for the pads the homes will be built on.

Anybody with ideas or connections to the DOT, please let us know what we can do or who we should nag.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s Andy’s report:

Andy Bassich
Eagle, Alaska

Bassich has been the coordinator of the Eagle Rebuilding Construction Team. Here’s the message he sent to reporters:

A good day here in Eagle today. FEMA leadership came to Eagle today and met with all of the 13 home owners that are in need of having a new home built and gave the go ahead on funding and settling personal claims. The monies to cover the rebuild effort should go out to people later this week and we should be able to begin to make orders for the log home kits by early next week.

Monies are to be sent to the private homeowners, and they will work with myself and Eagle Tribal Council Donna Westphal and Chief Joyce Roberts to place the orders.

Bassich’s dogs, the day of the flood

We have also received a commitment from the National organization MDS Mennonite Disaster Service, who has committed two skilled working crews to lead on the rebuilding of the cabins. They have an impeccable reputation of highly skilled workers, and top quality
craftsmanship.

Samaritans Purse has made a tremendous commitment of additional funds to help bring the standard of the homes up. and to run and maintain the Volunteer camp. They will also provide a core group to assist in co-ordination of funding and materials in Eagle. In addition they will be providing a crew of trained carpenters to Eagle to tackle the multitude of jobs which need to be accomplished by our deadline of
Sept. 15.

Still a lot to do here and this is the beginning but smiles came to the folks that lost everything today for the first time since May 3-4.

Now I need your help to light a fire under the Governor and DOT to get off their @#$%^&*() and get the gravel pit pushed and make gravel available to us to put down the pads for the homes. This has been a frustrating experience to deal with DOT they have provide ZERO help to us in terms of Roads maintenance and any type of fast tracking in our disaster. I have not witnessed such total incompetence and Waste in any agency ever. Everything hinges now on getting gravel to the home site and every day we wait is making it difficult to achieve our goal. we have Volunteers ready to move in to help us. but we must have the pads down before home kits can be delivered.

… We are on the verge of making something happen here which few if any have ever experienced with FEMA and we want to provide them with a big “Gold Star” for the efforts they and the state have made to assist us. …

Andy Bassich is an Eagle resident and has been the coordinator of the Eagle Rebuilding Construction Team.