Indoor plumbing is a basic amenity that most Americans take for granted. In parts of rural Alaska, however, providing water and sewer service is not an easy task. The harsh climate requires special adaptations, costs are high, and many small communities lack the expertise needed to manage complex systems. To address these challenges, the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative facilitates cooperation among Alaska Native villages to assist them with the operations of their own water and sewer systems as effectively and inexpensively as possible.
Colonization dramatically altered the lives of Alaska Native peoples, and the intergenerational pain – the historical trauma – caused by these changes deeply affects Alaska Native communities today. Among the Yup’ik of the Yukon Kuskokwim delta region, for example, rates of mental and behavioral health problems are extremely high. Calricaraq, a program hosted by the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, seeks to improve individual and community wellbeing using the traditional philosophies that have guided Yup’ik life for generations. This approach is succeeding where Western approaches have failed.
Contemporary place names throughout the United States reflect the history of colonization. The explorers and settlers who named mountains, rivers, and other natural features after themselves or their heroes were unaware or indifferent to the fact that waterways, features of the land, and places already had ancient names. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have undertaken an ambitious project to organize, give preeminence to, and systematically disseminate their knowledge of the land.
Working parents face a dilemma when a child falls ill. Staying home to provide care or finding a relative or friend to help can be a major challenge, especially for single parents, two-worker families, and employees whose jobs offer limited flexibility. The Chickasaw Nation Sick Child Care Program offers a safe and nurturing place for mildly ill children to spend the day and gives working parents the assurance that their children are receiving proper care.
Drug dealers and gang members threaten the well-being of communities throughout the United States. In Indian Country, jurisdictional issues and a lack of trust in law enforcement complicate the apprehension of drug- and gang-involved offenders. Tribal Police Departments in Wisconsin formed the Native American Drug and Gang Initiative Task Force to strengthen their ability to deal with these illegal activities with support from the tribal governments. The Task Force facilitates inter-agency cooperation and helps tribes take the lead in addressing public safety threats to their communities.
Establishing the criteria for citizenship is an inherent right of national governments around the world. This right determines who can be a citizen and how citizenship is transferred through generations. Yet for Indian nations, history complicates efforts to fully exercise sovereignty. Project Tiwahu –Redefining Tigua Citizenship was an Ysleta del Sur Pueblo wide – initiative to reform and self-determine enrollment as an exercise of tribal sovereignty. Reform efforts addressed the hard questions about belonging and built consensus around a new, more inclusive approach to tribal citizenship.