Cama’i Igyararmiut! Alussistuakegcikici cali allrakukegtaarmek piamci! (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)
As we wrap up the most challenging year in recent history, we end with a grateful heart for the health and wellbeing of our community, and the hard work that went into protecting each other and our village. Since our annual meeting and Christmas party has been postponed, I am providing a Presidential Report via the newsletter to share our major activities of 2020 with our community and network.
Surprisingly, we were able to maintain business-as-unusual in our village – with the usual (if not increased) level of employment for most; our fishermen and crews were able to commercial fish in safety; our subsistence activities continued over social distancing and we enjoyed an especially bountiful year of berries; our 7-8 rental units continue to be at full capacity; our community received a face lift in landscaping and upgrades to some buildings.
Other than routine activities, some major projects that were underway in 2020 include:
The Alaska Native Education Program grant titled “Communities Teaching Culture” ended September 30, 2020 after three wonderful years. Our project team will have a close-out meeting in early January. We intend to re-apply for a Lake Iliamna Yup’ik and Dena’ina language revitalization program in 2021. Meanwhile, through various other language grants we have been continuing recording and are waiting for a building space to continue unglu or “language nest” activities for the youth.
Our RivGen project has been very involved. Last summer we saw no adult returning sockeye salmon harmed by the device. We completed the planned maintenance event on RivGen in October. Our main goal now is to keep the device and cameras running through early spring to capture and document the salmon smolt outmigration – the last environmental permitting piece that needs proving. Our project is funded by multiple sources which means many team meetings, monthly and quarterly updates, and expectations to present to wider audiences. We ordered a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and transformer which are being manufactured, and will be shipped by early 2021. We are working on proposals now for the “smart” portion of the proposed “SMART Microgrid”. These involve technical meetings with many different companies and agencies and basically our goal is to get to a system where our generator facility has the capability to say: “batteries turn on, RivGen turn on, diesel generators turn off”.
This means our diesel powerhouse has to be upgraded because ultimately in any event, we need to have electricity. This means we are working with Alaska Energy Authority on another upgrade to the controller system in our powerhouse.
We continued meeting with the architecture firm Cutler-Anderson as a community for our “Igiugig Community Cultural Center.” The environmental review record is nearly complete because the archeological survey for the site was conducted in fall 2020. We initially had a round-shaped building, but by late fall we defaulted to a rectangular floor plan for easier construction.
With complete reluctance, we said “tua-ingrituq” (this is not the end to our teachers of nearly a decade – the Gooden Family – and welcomed new teachers Hannah Middleton, Ms. Gabbie and Miss Zenovia. We also gained the Bybee family and an incredible healthaide which has helped to fill the void of losing long-time community members. Below is a word art created from some of our favorite memories with the Goodens. It’s a good time to reflect on all our together times.
COVID-19: Igiugig was provided Cares Act assistance and we adopted a budget after a public meeting on August 3, 2020. The budgeting process allowed for our village to react quickly to prevent the spread of “Corona Virus” in Igiugig. This has been an entire community effort, but I’d like to personally thank Christina Salmon for managing the food bank, the sanitizing kits to households, and logistics involved in the entire operation. To this day, I’ve never met anyone more competent at logistics than her, and those skills deployed during this pandemic are a true example of teamwork. Halay Turningheart, our Grants Administrator, has managed the entire master CARES ACT budget and all of its moving parts with agility and grace, as well as tackling all of our other COVID related grants, all while having a third child. She’s one-of-a-kind. Sandy, our Chief Financial Accountant, managed the insurmountable accounting workload that has accompanied all the funding. Needless to say, this pandemic has taken an entire village effort whether you said “no” to a visitor, or were in charge of disinfecting our public spaces or handling the finances. We appreciate the incredible dedication of all, and together we will make it. Although our team was on track to expend the entire budget by December 31, 2020, we accepted the recent opportunity to extend through 2021.
Our archeologist Monty Rogers and crew were also able to conduct a site visit of the “Wassillie’s Point Monitoring” which is our former village of Qasgivik located near the confluence of Peck’s Creek and the Kvichak River. The site is slowly eroding, and we are monitoring the rate of erosion. We are also working on project to document the history of the Upper Kvichak along with our significant sites. Igiugig contracted for an aerial LiDAR survey and ortho-imagery data to update our community profile maps for improved emergency response planning, and to assist in our Upper Kvichak history project of documenting our former villages. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, which is a remote sensing method that is particularly useful for delineating cultural depressions that are hard to detect using other methods (for example, think Old Igiugig site which is completely grown over in grass).
We selected the company FlightEvolved to perform the work in October 2020, which we were lucky to fit in before the first real snow-fall. The project area encompassed about 35 square miles, and everything panned out seamlessly including the weather. We are grateful our own surveyor Steve Smith was able to perform the ground survey with the assistance of Jon Salmon. We look forward to sharing our updated maps with the community as they are produced. Profile mapping was last completed in 2003 and our community has nearly doubled in size since then.
We are looking forward to a prosperous 2021, and our next update will be on the projects we have lined out for the new year! Stay safe and healthy!
Download the Printable Newsletter(Newsletter will open in a new window. You may need to disable pop-up blockers.) The 2020 Presidential Report begins on page 6 and continues through page 10. Quyana!