By Lillian Sparks Robinson, Commissioner, Administration for Native Americans
Alaska Natives will receive an impressive $3.2 million from the Administration for Native Americans. ANA recently awarded $12,447,778 in new awards for 2015. This amount is up significantly from last year’s new awards to Alaska Natives ($1.2 million). The increase is due in part to the reintroduction of the Alaska-specific Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS-AK) funding opportunity.
SEDS-AK funding focuses on building core capacity in Alaska Native villages. This funding will manage community-driven projects designed to:
- Grow local economies
- Strengthen Alaskan Native families, including the preservation of Alaskan Native American cultures
- Decrease the high rate of current challenges caused by the lack of community-based businesses
This separate SEDS-AK competition allows the over 200 Alaska Native villages and native organizations with village specific projects to apply for funding. SEDS-AK will fund initiatives that will help build capacity and infrastructure. These projects will support some of the most rural and isolated areas of our country.
One project that will do just that is the Igiugig Village Visit disclaimer page Economic Sustainability Project. Igiugig is a remote village without a grocery store or roads leading to any other village or town. The village is solely reliant on outside companies to bring in food, fuel and supplies. Residents currently pay steep rates, such as $1 per pound shipping for all goods, $7.33 a gallon for fuel, and $0.805 per kilowatt hour for electricity.
Located at the southern end of Lake Iliamna, companies must make a special trip to serve Igiugig. The relatively small purchasing power of the village offers no incentive for shipping companies. Less than 100 people reside in the village. Many external factors, such as weather or other business demands, can delay or prevent the delivery of goods to the village. This new grant will address that situation by purchasing a tug/push boat. The grant will also train residents to operate the boat.
The boat will be essential for increasing reliability. It will decrease costs for goods brought to Igiugig on a regular basis. This new boat will also create local jobs. It will become an essential component to a larger energy self-sufficiency plan. The village will begin operating on renewable energy via a hydroelectric generator. This cleaner, more cost effective energy source will reduce the need for fossil fuels. Diesel fuel is used to provide heat and electricity to the village.
In addition to this one year SEDS-AK project, Igiuig also won a three-year Native Language Preservation and Maintenance Visit disclaimer page award. This grant will help teach Yup’ik to community members.
We are pleased that there was such a high interest in the SEDS-AK grants. We reviewed 29 applications. We were able to make five awards totaling $856,951. There were seven additional grants awarded from ANA’s other grant programs:
- Three Native Language projects
- One Sustainable Employment and Economic Development Strategies
- Three in the general Social and Economic Development Strategies category
See the full list of new awards at ANA’s website.