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When Climate Takes a Village: Legal Pathways toward the Relocation of Alaska Native Villages

When Climate Takes a Village: Legal Pathways toward the Relocation of Alaska Native Villages In Alaska, indigenous rural communities face climate-related challenges to maintaining their physical and cultural continuity. Some of these communities are considering ‘co-relocation’, in which the population of an entire community relocates to a new site on nearby rural land where residents can continue to practice their subsistence lifeways. Some Alaskans have called for government-assisted co-relocation for Alaska Native Villages (anvs), whereby national and State of Alaska government agencies pay for and lead the construction of housing and infrastructure at the new site. This model of relocation has many challenges, including expense, delay, lack of support from those outside anvs, confusion as to which agency will do what, and the effect of continuing an unsustainable Western colonial pattern. The state and federal governments, in partnership with anvs, need to explore what alternatives are available to preserve these communities’ physical and cultural continuity. This article considers the legal and political framework for relocation alternatives, and suggests pathways that would not require major changes of law or the creation of new agencies. I draw on various legal sources as well as interviews with anv members, Alaska legislators, Congressional staff, federal and state agency directors, academics, planners, and others who make or influence policy that could affect co-relocation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climate Law Brill

When Climate Takes a Village: Legal Pathways toward the Relocation of Alaska Native Villages

Climate Law , Volume 7 (4): 31 – Nov 9, 2017

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1878-6553
eISSN
1878-6561
DOI
10.1163/18786561-00704003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In Alaska, indigenous rural communities face climate-related challenges to maintaining their physical and cultural continuity. Some of these communities are considering ‘co-relocation’, in which the population of an entire community relocates to a new site on nearby rural land where residents can continue to practice their subsistence lifeways. Some Alaskans have called for government-assisted co-relocation for Alaska Native Villages (anvs), whereby national and State of Alaska government agencies pay for and lead the construction of housing and infrastructure at the new site. This model of relocation has many challenges, including expense, delay, lack of support from those outside anvs, confusion as to which agency will do what, and the effect of continuing an unsustainable Western colonial pattern. The state and federal governments, in partnership with anvs, need to explore what alternatives are available to preserve these communities’ physical and cultural continuity. This article considers the legal and political framework for relocation alternatives, and suggests pathways that would not require major changes of law or the creation of new agencies. I draw on various legal sources as well as interviews with anv members, Alaska legislators, Congressional staff, federal and state agency directors, academics, planners, and others who make or influence policy that could affect co-relocation.

Journal

Climate LawBrill

Published: Nov 9, 2017

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