Alaska Native Fund – 2016 Grantees  

Advancing Alaska Native Priorities for Protecting the Land and Sustaining Our Ways of Life

Alaska Conservation Foundation, in partnership with an Alaska Native Steering Committee, awarded 14 Alaska Native Fund grants totaling $236,000 for indigenous environmental priorities addressing food security, sustainable economies, holistic wellness, energy and climate change issues in Alaska. We are pleased to present the 2016 grant recipients:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
    2016 Alaskan Plants as Food & Medicine Symposium
    Grant Amount: $5,000

    The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is a statewide nonprofit health services organization owned by Alaska Native people committed to promoting knowledge of traditional foods and holistic wellness in support of Alaska Native health. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, ANTHC will host the 2016 Alaskan Plants as Food & Medicine Symposium, a gathering that is focused on enhancing and disseminating knowledge of healthy, holistic living and strengthening Indigenous ways of life. Elders, tribal health leaders and plant experts will gather to educate attendees on the traditional uses of plants and to promote harvesting, processing and sharing of knowledge.
  • Alaska Native Village Corporation Association
    Analysis of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Contaminated Lands
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    There are over 200 Village Corporations in Alaska. The Alaska Native Village Corporation Association’s (ANVCA) mission is to promote Village Corporation success and protection of our Native Lands. ANVCA has identified addressing contaminated land issues as a top priority due to the many threats they pose. There are over 600 contaminated sites on land conveyed to Alaska Native Corporations following the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971. These lands were contaminated under ownership and/or responsibility of the federal government. One of ANVCA’s objectives is to work with Corporations, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders to develop criteria to prioritize remediation of ANCSA contaminated sites, along with eliminating liability for the Native Corporations that received them. Support from the Alaska Native Fund will help seed the initial effort to bring critical legal expertise and analysis to this issue and lay the groundwork for a long-term strategy for future mitigation efforts.  
  • Aleut International Association
    Community Observation Network on Adaptation and Security
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    Aleut International Association (AIA) was formed to address environmental and cultural concerns of the extended Aleut family whose wellbeing has been connected to the rich resources of the Bering Sea for millennia. The need to understand impacts from climate change and the effects of commercial fisheries on the Bering Sea ecosystem is critical to ensuring resilient, sustainable communities in the region. Togiak will serve as one of eight communities in AIA’s Community Observation Network on Adaptation and Security (CONAS) which is collecting data to understand how climate change is changing the Arctic environment. As sea ice melts, commercial use of the Arctic is on the upswing, increasing the potential for interaction with, and negative impact on, fish and wildlife and in turn people’s subsistence hunting and fishing patterns, affecting food security. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, AIA will train Togiak residents, chosen for their Local and Traditional Knowledge (LTK), to observe and document the changes occurring. The data will be used to ensure residents and policy makers have access to dynamic, relevant and culturally appropriate research to inform future resource management and other policy decisions.
  • Bering Sea Elders Group
    Northern Bering Sea Initiative
    Grant Amount: $18,000

    The Bering Sea Elders Group is an association of elders appointed by 39 tribes along the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Bering Strait coast to serve as a collective expression of traditional leadership across two large regions in Alaska. With a mission to bring together elders as one voice to protect our traditional ways of life, the ocean web of life that supports the resources we rely on, and our children’s future, the Elders Group serves as a messenger for the children and tribal councils in the region to the federal government, which is making resource management decisions for their regions. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, the Elders Group will work to strengthen precautionary fishery management tools that prevent expansion of large-scale bottom trawl fisheries into the northern Bering Sea and to promote the role of tribes in the decision-making process related to managing ship traffic, such as preventing noise disturbances and pollution and minimizing conflicts with subsistence hunting.
  • Chickaloon Native Village
    Restoring Health Through Cultural Practices of Environmental Stewardship
    Grant Amount: $14,000

    As far back as 1900, Chickaloon Native Village’s ancestral homelands in Southcentral Alaska have been subjected to large-scale resource extraction including coal, copper and gold mining, oil and gas drilling and logging. While the community has frequently mobilized to face the environmental work critical to protect their lands, this has taken vital resources and energy away from traditional, cultural and subsistence activities that are essential for holistic wellness. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, Chickaloon Native Village will engage Tribal citizens in Ahtna cultural life ways and environmental stewardship by providing expanded cultural and environmental education programming throughout the year to help encourage traditional and sustainable ways of life.
  • Gwich’in Steering Committee
    14th Gwich’in Gathering
    Grant Amount: $15,000

    The Gwich’in are the northernmost Indian Nation, living in 15 small villages scattered across a vast area extending from the northern reaches of Alaska to Canada. The Gwich’in Steering Committee was formed in 1988 in response to proposals to drill for oil in the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Every two years, the Gwich’in Nation gathers to reaffirm a shared commitment to protecting the Porcupine Caribou herd, the Coastal Plain and the Gwich’in way of life. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, they will gather again in 2016 and focus on how climate change is affecting their villages and traditional food sources. A primary goal for the Steering Committee is to protect the Coastal Plain from oil and gas development, a supporting goal is to focus on leadership development of Gwich’in youth to help continue this work. 
  • Haa Aani Community Development Fund, Inc.
    Traveling Business “Boot-Camp” Workshop
    Grant Amount: $17,000

    Haa Aani Community Development Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution with a focus on working with small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Southeast Alaska. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, a mobile business development workshop will be deployed in Alaska Native communities on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, in the Tongass National Forest, to provide training and technical assistance to local entrepreneurs. Southeast Alaska’s rural communities suffer from high unemployment due in part to a loss of jobs once provided by the timber industry. Promoting small-scale entrepreneurship with a triple-bottom-line approach that includes profitability, environmental sustainability and community health is a critical step towards building financial self-sufficiency and sustainable local economies for the region.
  • Native Village of Chuathbaluk
    Technical Assistance for the Donlin Mine Environmental Impact Statement Process
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    Located on the Kuskokwim River in Southwest Alaska, Native Village of Chuathbaluk lies near the site of the proposed Donlin Creek gold mine. If approved and developed, the mine would be the biggest in Alaska and right next to the Kuskokwim River. There are risks from contaminants that could harm fish and wildlife. It would also increase barge traffic on the river where they subsistence fish, bringing along with it an increased risk of diesel, chemical and cargo spills, posing a threat to their way of life. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, the Native Village of Chuathabaluk, with assistance from technical consultants, will be able to maintain an active and informed role in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process through which the mine is currently moving.
  • Native Village of Port Heiden
    Meshik Reindeer Farm
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    The Native Village of Port Heiden (NVPH), located on the Aleutian Peninsula in Southwest Alaska, has embarked on an effort to revitalize a long-dormant animal husbandry tradition of reindeer herding. Port Heiden is a traditional Alutiiq community, with a commercial fishing and subsistence lifestyle. The reindeer herd is significant to residents, who are socially, financially and personally involved with the farm, because it is helping them continue their cultural traditions, strengthen their food security and support a sustainable economic activity in this remote community only accessible by boat or plane. NVPH has managed a herd since July 2015. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, they will add five additional reindeer to help increase the herd size to a more sustainable level.
  • Nondalton Tribal Council
    Quk’Tazun Outdoor Learning Camp
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    Nondalton Tribal Council (NTC) is a federally recognized tribe of Dena’ina Athabascan heritage, within the Bristol Bay region in Southwestern Alaska. NTC’s vision is to uphold the responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of Tribal members, protect our land and subsistence resources and support strong, well-balanced leaders for future generations. With major mining exploration occurring close to their homelands within the last decade, one of NTC’s main goals is to increase capacity in environmental protection and education. A grant from the Alaska Native Fund will support their second Quk’Tazun Outdoor Learning Camp, a unique 10-day educational experience which combines two knowledge systems that both encourage greater individual well-being as well as care for the natural world. 
  • Tribe of Nulato
    Salmon Peoples of Arctic Rivers
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    The community of Nulato is located on the banks of the Yukon River, which flows from Canada through the heart of Alaska to the Bering Sea. The Tribe of Nulato is assisting with an assessment of salmon and ecosystem health along the Yukon River for the Arctic Athabascan Council—a treaty organization formed to represent Alaska Native and First Nations’ interests to the eight nation-states involved in the Arctic Council. This project aims to address food security and increase the use of Indigenous Knowledge in the science and management of Arctic salmon, and specifically salmon from the Yukon River, which are in decline. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, a series of gatherings will be held with elders and active fishers to determine a list of priorities that address both the health of the ecosystem and economic well-being of communities along the Yukon River. The final report will be shared with other communities facing similar challenges, and will contribute to policy-making at the international forum of the Arctic Council.
  • Organized Village of Kasaan
    Kasaan Traditional Garden
    Grant Amount: $7,000

    With limited access to fresh foods and the nearest grocery store 23 miles away via gravel roads, the Organized Village of Kasaan (OVK) situated in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska is working with local students to create a traditional Haida community garden with 20 raised garden beds in an effort to increase food security, self-sufficiency and sustainability in this remote community. OVK is a federally-recognized Tribe that is committed to promoting, preserving, and protecting indigenous Haida identity and values. With support from the Alaska Native Fund, this project will help raise awareness among local youth and families about the value of harvesting healthy and fresh food as well as promote students’ cultural education about Indigenous stewardship and traditional and modern gardening techniques. A key component of the project will focus on cultivating a heritage variety of Haida potato.
  • Tanana Chiefs Conference
    Naiy Tsuu aaLgh: So We Can Eat
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    The Tanana Chiefs Conference is a consortium of 42 member tribes in Interior Alaska focused on advancing tribal self-determination and enhancing Alaska Native unity. The goal of this project is to increase Alaska Native influence in the management of traditional lands and fish and wildlife, the long-term health of which are critical to continuing traditional ways of life. Alaska Native cultures in Interior Alaska are rooted in a deep awareness and unity with the living things around them and fundamental practices of cooperation and sharing. Alaska Native voices have historically been underrepresented in resource management decisions which impact traditional use. With funding from the Alaska Native Fund, tribal leaders and advocates will attend a variety of important state and federal meetings where natural resource policy and regulatory decisions will be deliberated, to ensure local indigenous voices are represented.
  • United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group
    Presentation at the IUCN World Conservation Congress Convention
    Grant Amount: $20,000

    United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group (UTTMWG) is a coalition of 15 Tribes throughout Southeast Alaska, from Metlakatla to Yakutat, that is working to protect their cultures and ways of life, keep their rivers clean and productive and provide a unified voice of the indigenous peoples of this region that mining corporations and government officials must respect through government to government relations. UTTMWG is working together with local and national conservation organizations to bring the Alaska/British Columbia transboundary mine issue to the attention of the international community. They were selected among 1,400 applicants to present this fall at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, which for the first time will be held in the U.S. The IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization. The focus of their presentation will be on culture-based management principles. UTTMWG will be able to attend the conference with support from the Alaska Native Fund.