A triumph for the People of Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) President and CEO Jason Metrokin made the following statement today in reaction to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Alaska District’s decision to deny a permit to Pebble mine:

A permit denial from the Army Corps is a triumph for the people of Bristol Bay who have fought tirelessly against Pebble mine for well over a decade. While we are still reviewing the details of the decision, it is it is clear that Pebble is not in the best interests of Bristol Bay and those whose livelihoods depend on its incredible fishery.

We thank the Corps for acknowledging this reality in its decision. BBNC looks forward to working with stakeholders, both in-region and across Alaska, our Congressional delegation and the federal government to ensure that wild salmon continue to thrive in Bristol Bay waters, bringing with them the immense cultural, subsistence and economic benefits that we all have enjoyed for so long.

Bristol Bay Native Corporation

Anchorage, AK

Advice on not making the same mistake

My name is “Ciquyaq”, my Alaskan Native Yup’ik name. English name is James, my last name is Asuluk. I was born October 3, 1965 at Bethel. Raised at Toksook Bay most of my life, but visited grandparents at Tununak and lived with them less than a year.

My parents live at Toksook Bay as well as my kids, grandkids. We all live along the coast of Alaska, small town of Nelson Island as well as surrounding villages of Tununak, Nightmute, Newtok, Mekoryuk, Chefornak. By the grace of God, my family live at Toksook Bay.

I was raised in the Catholic religion and in a good home where all my needs were met. Our house was close to St. Peter’s Fisherman’s Church. I went to services whenever the church bell ring. Always ran to it to be servers for the preacher and deacons. First two that get there first would be servers for the day’s service.

I learned to get there first. I loved to listen to the readings. Taught me to become a “good boy”. And I thank Father God to have taught me the truth, the way and the life. But as I grew up, not realizing God’s adversary took over. When I matured towards adulthood, deceiver came into my life, not realizing myself of being deceived by the enemy. I strayed away. Early in my life, the enemy started blinding my eyes. Sin grew in my heart, mind, eyes, and flesh.

I turned to drugs at a young age. I came to feel that my flesh loved drugs. My parents’ hearts were hurt, my life went down. I started stealing from my parents, grandparents, just to please my so-called “friends”. As you see, I am an Alaskan Native and Alaskan Natives are a people with lots of pride. I hurt myself in this way.

This was the biggest mistake that I made in my life. Now looking back, it would have been so simple to have everything fixed. If I had only spoken to my parents, grandparents, or someone I loved closely and told them I didn’t feel love coming toward me! I could have told them, “I am hurting. Please love me.”

The best cure for everything is love and speaking out. Don’t make the same mistake that I made. I have five beautiful kids that grew up. First three children gave me grandchildren and I love them all.

I am incarcerated behind bars because of the wrong that I have done, but Father God has given me a second chance in this life. To all that know me, forgive me from your heart as I forgive you and anyone I caused to sin. Kenkamci tamarpeci. I pray to see you all.

James Asuluk, YKCC

Bethel, AK

Alaska Geospatial Council helps state really “know where it’s at”

Satellites, LIDAR, high-altitude observation aircraft and powerful geographic information system (GIS) computers are miracles of the modern age that can generate enormous quantities of data about Alaska’s land and resources to guide important activities like resource development, municipal and transportation planning, wildlife management, public safety and more.

These powerful tools are enhanced by a coordinated effort to make such data readily available and easy to use. That’s where the Alaska Geospatial Council (AGC) comes in.

The 12-member council includes seven state and three federal officials, plus representatives from the University of Alaska, Native corporations and municipalities, charged with improving geospatial information availability and use in Alaska. It’s worked since 2015 under the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys to eliminate redundant effort and expense, modernize state geospatial data holdings and hardware, acquire and make geospatial data widely available, and implement a statewide geospatial strategic plan.

“Geospatial” means “location on the earth.” Information identifying what the earth contains, and precisely where it is located, is essential for many important activities in a large, pioneer state like Alaska. Geospatial datasets may show the contours of the land, the size and distribution of lakes and rivers, or the precise shape of coastlines, for example.

Integrating such data into other land management tools helps us make better decisions about how to use and conserve our resources. This is especially important in the nation’s largest and most northerly state, with extreme and varied landscape, unrivaled natural resources, limited infrastructure, and significant needs.

One of AGC’s most important functions is coordinating with federal agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to identify the most valuable data to acquire, help design, fund and conduct the surveys, and then share the results. Coordinating Alaskans’ many voices through the AGC amplifies Alaska’s influence in supporting the flow of federal funds to best serve our state’s needs.

AGC has worked closely with Alaska’s federal congressional delegation – Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young – in encouraging federal agencies to coordinate with the AGC, and to direct federal funds to help acquire geospatial data to serve Alaska’s priorities.

As chair of the AGC, I am proud of its accomplishments. AGC recently completed a 10-year, $70 million effort to use high-altitude airplanes to obtain full digital elevation data – from the mudflats to the mountaintops – for the entire state. USGS led the project, with support from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service. Among its many applications, this dataset will serve as the foundation of a new generation of topographical maps of Alaska due in 2021. That’s geospatial information every Alaskan will be able to use for hunting, hiking and backcountry exploring.

AGC was also at the forefront of Alaska’s response to President Donald Trump‘s 2018 executive order calling for thorough mapping of the nation’s coastline and 200-mile Economic Exclusion Zone. AGC helped develop a coastal mapping strategy, established a coastal working group to prioritize coastal mapping areas, and has coordinated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to adopt a plan that in 2021 will start producing a more accurate map of Alaska’s coastline. This project is critical in charting coastal erosion and providing ships with updated hazard information.

Recently, AGC successfully launched a most exciting interactive product: the “Open Data Geoportal.” Available at http://gis.data.alaska.gov, it’s a one-stop website where users can discover, access and share data, maps and applications from a broad range of sources managed by local, state and federal organizations. It includes data on economics, public health, education, government, energy, environment, and even COVID-19.

As almost everyone agrees, Alaska is truly the “Great Land.” The Alaska Geospatial Council is working diligently and successfully to help expand our detailed knowledge and understanding of just how great our land really is. For details on AGC and its work, visit: http://agc.dnr.alaska.gov/

Corri A. Feige, Commissioner

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Example: 9075434113