Joaqlin Estus, KNBA - Anchorage

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Joaqlin Estus is a reporter at KNBA in Anchorage.

Ten years ago, the American Dental Association unsuccessfully sued to get the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to halt its Alaska Dental Health Therapist (DHAT) program. Now the program has won a national award for its innovative approach to providing Alaska Natives with dental care. And the idea is expanding to other states. Download Audio:

The U.S. Congress on Tuesday unanimously adopted legislation to create a Commission on Native American children, according to a prepared statement by bill sponsor and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

President Obama discussed Alaska, climate change, and Arctic issues in a speech May 20. That came after an executive order in January creating an Arctic Executive Steering Committee to coordinate federal Arctic activities. These may be signs Arctic issues are gaining a higher profile.

Tribal, state, and private sector leaders Wednesday kicked off construction of housing at the Alaska Native Medical Center. They say it will improve services for Alaska Native and American Indian people who travel to Anchorage from across the state for health care. A state Senator who helped get the project financed says it will also save the state millions of dollars a year for decades to come.

A national law firm that specializes in Indian law is donating $3.5 million to improve medical care for tribal members. The decision comes after the firm, which has offices in Anchorage, helped win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving hundreds of millions of dollars for tribal health organizations. Download Audio:

Over the past four days, we have brought you stories that go out into the field for an in-depth look at Alaska's rural sanitation situation - a series we call "Kick the Bucket." We have seen how the lack of modern sanitation is linked to disease as people strain the limits of their clean water supply. And we have looked at the implications of decreasing funding and looming maintenance expenses in villages with a limited cash economy. Today we’ll wrap up the series by trying to look into the future.

What if you didn't have piped water and sewer, and the government wasn't picking up the tab to get you some. How would you find a low-cost system that you could keep running through the winter? In the fourth segment of "Kick the Bucket," find out how experts are looking for answers to rural sanitation issues in Alaska. Download Audio:

What if you didn’t have piped water and sewer, and the government wasn’t picking up the tab to get you some? How would you find a low-cost system that you could keep running through the winter? In this segment of “Kick the Bucket,” find out how experts are looking for answers to rural sanitation issues in Alaska.

Even rural communities that have raised the money to build modern sanitation systems face the threat of their ultimate failure due to the lack of funding for operations and maintenance, wiping away whatever health gains were achieved.

Most of us have never lived with without running water at home. Today, we’ll learn about some people who are just getting used to it, and others who would like to get used to having running water. In the second segment of the series Kick the Bucket, we’ll also hear some of the reasons Alaska hasn’t made modern plumbing a simple fact of life for all Alaskans.

You don't have to go to a foreign country to find Third World conditions. You can find more than six percent of Alaskans living in those conditions - without modern running water or sewer systems. The so-called "honey bucket" situation has frequently been deplored and millions of federal and state dollars have been devoted to dealing with it. But the reality remains that people in 3,300 households in the state live without running water and flush toilets and have much higher rates of hospitalization for respiratory and skin infections. Are there solutions? Maybe? Are we getting closer to those solutions? Maybe not. Today we begin a five-part series entitled "Kick the Bucket," in which we'll get a closer look at the water and sewer situation in rural Alaska. In part one, we look at the public health implication of inadequate water supplies.

About 500 athletes from elementary through high school will be at the Native Youth Olympics, which kicks off Thursday in Anchorage. Download Audio

An Ojibwe woman and independent journalist Mary Annette Pember recently visited Alaska for a series of stories on historical trauma and Native American mental health practices. Pember says the troubled lives of Native Americans reflect their troubled history. Download Audio

State Senate Finance Committee members are going over proposed agency budgets one by one, looking for funds or programs they can cut. Thursday they questioned Department of Environmental Conservation officials, asking just how bad it would be to turn down federal dollars for water and sewer systems. Download Audio

The state on Monday asked the Alaska Supreme Court for more time in a case involving the adoption of a Yup’ik child, a case that tribes say will determine how the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, will be implemented in Alaska, and show whether Governor Bill Walker is serious about campaign pledges he made to work cooperatively with tribes.

All the regional Native nonprofits in the state, which represent most of the tribes in Alaska, have issued a joint statement asking Governor Bill Walker to change his position in the court case Tununuk II vs. the state of Alaska. They say Walker’s position will make it very difficult for tribal members to adopt Native children. The state says it’s only arguing for compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The case involves a Native child called Baby Dawn; her Alaska Native grandmother Elise of the village of Tununuk; and Baby Dawn’s non-Native former foster and now adoptive parents the Smiths of Anchorage. An Alaska Supreme Court ruling in December allowed the Smith’s petition to adopt Baby Dawn to override Elise’s stated wish to adopt her granddaughter.

The Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and a dozen regional Native non-profits are asking Governor Bill Walker to change his position in a case involving the adoption of Alaska Native children. They say the state’s position in the case Tununuk v. the state of Alaska erects barriers between tribal children and tribal homes.

Members of the Legislative Bush Caucus were told last week in a “Lunch and Learn” session on rural sanitation almost a billion dollars is needed to build, replace, and maintain rural sanitation systems. But, the gap between the level of need and funding is widening. Download Audio

Governor Bill Walker’s administration is seeking a delay in a long-running tribal sovereignty case, saying it wants to form a working group to explore policy issues and potential alternatives to continued litigation. But the tribes’ attorney says the state’s request for a delay is just a ploy to get around its loss in court. Download Audio

State transportation commissioner Patrick Kemp has been ousted following his defense of the department's pursuit of the Juneau access road. Download Audio