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Sunday, September 24, 2023

How Nondalton, Alaska, Will Flourish Again

The Village ran out of oil and gas a couple years ago, and residents had to drive snowmachines across the frozen lake to buy fuel from their neighboring communities. Now they have a backup generator on site that can power the entire community, and a vision to explore wind, solar, and energy efficiency measures through Department of Energy free Technical Assistance, offered to Tribes and Native Corporations through the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs.  

Kijik Corporation, who which owns 126,000 acres of surface estate including the land encompassing the village of Nondalton, Six Mile Lake, and Lake Clark. CEO Emily Davenport worked with the Arctic Energy Office to set up this visit. She emphasized that Nondalton residents face significant barriers due to a lack of resources, geographical remoteness of the village, and the high cost to live in rural Alaska. 

“This place is the source of their history, their culture. Their homes, their community shouldn’t have to be at risk,” Davenport said regarding the topic of outmigration, a serious issue facing Alaska Native people and the difficult choice to stay, or relocate from their villages to urban areas due to economic and environmental threats facing many rural communities in Alaska. “But residents have to make hard decisions weighing the cost of energy and everyday expenses needed to live in rural Alaska: do I put gas in my boat, or heat my home, or buy bullets for my gun for hunting… we need to preserve culture and a subsistence way of life.” Kijik Corporation hopes it can invest in energy resources that improve the way of life for people in Nondalton and also provide an economic opportunities to the corporation, which is tasked with managing land and resources for the benefit of its 526 shareholders, the residents on their land. 

Barriers to federal assistance for communities like Nondalton can include the pre-planning and expertise needed to apply for funding, any cost-match requirements, and a lack of the data and analytics needed for determining what energy solutions can be the best fit for the village’s unique needs.  

Fawn Silas, the Tribal Council Administrator for the Village of Nondalton, along with the City and Kijik Corporation, are the key stakeholders Davenport said, that help this village thrive. As Rick Delkittle Sr., a Nondalton resident who spoke from his fish camp said, “We have to continue to find new ways to stay sustainable.”  

They want to make the village flourish again, and in this beautiful lake-side community, it’s not hard to see how this place is so deeply connected to the culture and tradition of the Dena’ina people and their resilience to preserve their homeland. 

Official news published at https://www.energy.gov/arctic/articles/how-nondalton-alaska-will-flourish-again-0

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