St. Lawrence Island is facing a traditional food crisis & economic disaster
“This is a crisis for the community. Children and elders are going hungry. Freezers which are usually full this time of year are empty.” Says Vi Waghiyi, Native Village of Savoonga tribal member and Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics.
We are reaching out to you now because of an urgent crisis with our friends and families on St Lawrence Island, Alaska. We have offered to provide whatever assistance we can for immediate food assistance. As many of you may already know, our Yupik people there depend on traditional foods for our survival. For many thousands of years we have been able to live in balance with nature, hunting and fishing for our primary foods which provide physical, spiritual, and cultural sustenance.
The impacts of climate change are much more intense and severe in the Arctic than in the lower 48. These changes have contributed to create a crisis of severe food shortages for the St. Lawrence communities of Gambell and Savoonga as the long winter rapidly approaches.
Due to declining and shifting sea ice, melting of permafrost, and severe storm surges, the fish and wildlife that the people hunt for food are suffering compromises to their own well-being and health, as well as population declines. This is likely at least due to persistent toxic chemicals linked to infertility that drift northward on wind and water. As a result of the increasing size and severity of storms, as well as reductions in sea ice, it is much more dangerous for our people of St. Lawrence Island to conduct their traditional fishing and hunting.
Whatever the cause of this shortage, our Yupik people are facing severe hunger this winter. The children and elderly are especially vulnerable to this lack of food.
The people of St. Lawrence Island have asked the state and federal governments for help. Unfortunately, no immediate assistance has been provided.
The Yupik people are asking our colleagues in the environmental health and justice communities for help. If we can raise $35,000 by December 1st, we can help most of the families on St. Lawrence Island make it through the worst part of winter. This is our goal for immediate aid and we will keep you updated about any future needs.
Alaska Community Action on Toxics has set up a system to receive money and to make sure that healthy foods are purchased and taken to St Lawrence Island for direct distribution to families. We are doing this with no overhead costs and also working to secure free shipping to the Island. Click here to donate to the St Lawrence Island Food Crisis Fund using PayPal.
Please click here to donate to the St Lawrence Island Food Crisis Fund using PayPal - right now and donate whatever you can afford.
Our coming together to support the people of St Lawrence Island is extremely urgent for our Yupik friends and families.
Thank you. Igamsiqayugvikamsii.
Tribal Member, Native Village of Savoonga and Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics
PS: Donations may be made online through ACAT’s PayPal page or you may send checks to:
Alaska Community Action on Toxics, 505 West Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 205, Anchorage, Alaska, 99503
Disaster declared for subsistence walrus hunt on St. Lawrence Island, “An economic disaster has been declared after tightly-packed sea ice led to a disastrous walrus hunt for the communities of St. Lawrence island in 2013. Can the true value of subsistence resources ever be determined?” By Suzanna Caldwell, Alaska Dispatch, September 2, 2013
Other St. Lawrence Island news stories on Alaska Dispatch: