Thursday, October 30, 2008

Alaskans seek ways to stay in their rural homes in the face of skyrocketing energy costs

The theme at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention last week was “Reaching for the Stars,” but “Our Endangered Villages” might have been more fitting, given the discussions and resolutions at the gathering, reports Alex DeMarban of Alaska Newspapers.

"Variations of that grim phrase were heard repeatedly," DeMarban writes, "as delegates sought ways to lower living costs that have forced many to leave rural Alaska for urban areas. Near the end of the annual meeting on Saturday, Alaska’s largest Native organization asked the state and federal government to declare an emergency in the Bush because of the high cost of heating oil and gas. . . . The cost of gas and heating fuel soared past $10 a gallon in some villages this year, creating a ripple effect that forced all prices higher and burdened rural residents with incredible hardship, delegates said. Some village schools are in danger of closing for lack of students. Many families have apparently fled to Anchorage ..."

AFN board member Ralph Angasan told DeMarban, “The situation is catastrophic. There’s no money in rural Alaska. The economy is dead.” (Read more)

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