In the Yukon-Kuskokwim we are suffering from spikes in COVID-19 case numbers and have been in lockdown mode for over a month now and some dear elders have departed. Despite the fact that residents and Tribal offices are in crisis and have asked for a pause in permitting for Donlin, the State of Alaska continues to march forward with issuing permits for the project.
The latest is DNR proposing to issue 12 water permits that would give Donlin Gold the rights to withdraw water from 12 streams in the Kuskokwim watershed near Donlin Gold. DNR is allowing for only a 30 day comment period that ends at 5:00 PM on December 15th.
The holiday season is always a difficult time to respond, but combined with lockdowns and office closures, meaningful responses from Tribal leaders is next to impossible. That is why we are asking that you respond by submitting comments because we know from previous requests that the State of Alaska will not likely extend the comment period.
The State of Alaska has continued to violate the human rights of the people of the Yukon-Kuskokwim and the utter disrespect toward our cultural practices, our connection to the land and what it provides for our people cannot be construed as anything other than acts of racism veiled by ‘process.’
The link to submit comments to is: https://secure.ngpvan.com/JEKyG0UlF02tXXFdErwESQ2?emci=c4ab1359-823a-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&emdi=6524eae8-193b-eb11-9fb4-00155d43b2cd&ceid=184935
The 12 water rights permits that are subject to comment now will de-water creeks – including Crooked Creek – to the point of drying up ⅔ to ¾ of the salmon redds. In other words, DNR wants to give-away this vital habitat and the food sources of salmon and smelt that it supports to mining entities to be defiled and destroyed for gold that is intended to fuel nothing more than human vanity.
Community and Cultural Activist
Bring Back the Light
On Sunday, Dec. 20, at 5 p.m., Alaska DHSS is encouraging each and every Alaskan, in a moment of statewide celebration, solidarity and reflection, to step outside with others in their household and light a candle or turn on lights, flashlights, headlamps or a lantern.
During this pandemic, Alaskans have shown considerable strength to adapt and take care of themselves and each other. On the eve of Winter Solstice, Alaskans will take a moment and come together to show support and gratitude for one another and their communities, take pride in their resiliency and look forward to brighter days ahead.
Each light from every Alaskan will represent brighter days to come, literally and figuratively. It’s intended to celebrate Alaskans’ resiliency, as well as remember Alaskans lost to COVID-19. Organizations, neighbors and businesses throughout the state have been encouraged to help bring back the light in preparation for brighter days ahead.
More information is available on the event Facebook page or event website. Participants are being encouraged to share photos and videos of their recognition of the event on social media using the hashtag #WithYouAlaska.
Sue Libenson, Public Information Officer
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services