Allakaket Opposition to the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Road

Allakaket Tribal Council

photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On behalf of tribal members / local residents, the Allakaket Village Council is opposed to the Road to Ambler. Our main concerns are the drastic impacts the road would have to the local environment — the air, the water, and the land. The local people are directly interconnected with and rely on the land and wildlife, which provides our food supply and the future of our subsistence and survival practices. The road to Ambler would pollute water ways, increase pollution emitted into the air, and damage the lands’ geographical structure, harming wildlife habitats.

Aside from threats of environmental damage, there are several other impacts concerns vs. zero local benefits, including: our subsistence life-way, our health, social impacts, caribou and fish, public safety, cultural resources, and the future of our communities’ mitigation.

Allakaket is a federally recognized tribe located on the south bank of the Koyukuk River and southwest of the Alatna River exactly on the Arctic Circle in what is commonly known as Interior Alaska. The Southern Brooks Range slopes south towards our community, with our town located at the base of the Brooks Range.The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. Average annual precipitation is 13 inches, and average annual snowfall is 72 inches. The Koyukuk River is ice-free from June through October.

The village’s population is primarily Alaska Natives of various groups, including Koyukon Athabascans, Kobuk, Selawik, and Nunamiut Eskimos. Thesegroups established joint settlements in 1851. The old site of Alatna, across the river from Allakaket, was a traditional trading post for Athabascans and Eskimos.In 1975 the community incorporated as a City, including both settlements Allakaket & Alatna.The governing bodies include the Allakaket City Council and Tribal Council. Traditional practices such as subsistence hunting & gathering, Athabascan dancing, potlatches, culture camps, storytelling, paddle making, and many other activities are still passed down to every generation to carry on the culture. We are a long-established community of over 300 tribal members.

Allakaket’s existence has always relied on the peoples’traditional environmental observationthat occurs every day throughout each year. This type of observation is necessary for the locals that live within this area. Like many other places in Alaska, we are experiencing climate change trends like warming winter temperatures, river bank erosion, drying lakes, high spring water levels for extended periods, and much more. This intimate knowledge of our environment means we understand how harmful the proposed road would be to our way of life.

Pollution to the water ways intersecting the proposed road corridor above Allakaketis a major concern for the locals, whom all rely on the rivers and creeks, includingthe Koyukuk River and its tributaries like the South Fork drainage, Henshaw Creek, and Alatna River.

Allakaket people have lived in this area for many centuries, and the desire of the locals is to remain connected with their culture and way of life with the resources that members and residents have relied upon.The road to Ambler would bring dramatic changes to these resources with no benefit to our community.