King Cove Tribe, Community Thank NCAI for Resolution Supporting Life-Saving Road
July 16, 2015
King Cove, AK – July 16, 2015 – King Cove tribal and city leaders expressed their sincere gratitude to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) following the organization’s recent unanimous passage of a resolution supporting the remote community’s life-saving road to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport.
“We are so grateful that NCAI understands and supports us in getting a single-lane gravel road connection between King Cove and Cold Bay for use during emergency medical situations,” said Etta Kuzakin, president of the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove. “This is a matter of life and death for us. Our community experiences harsh weather year round, making it dangerous to travel by air or sea at least 30 percent of the time.”
The short connector road would allow residents of King Cove to safely access nearby Cold Bay, home to the second-longest runway in the state, in cases of emergency and severe weather conditions.
“Too many of our people – especially the very old and very young – have suffered needlessly because we lack a reliable way to get the sick and injured to a hospital during our region’s often severe weather,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the King Cove (Native) Corporation. “NCAI’s support for the road is invaluable and much appreciated.”
The NCAI resolution reads in part, that: “Because of public health, safety, and quality of life factors, the NCAI does hereby support the rights of the Aleut people of King Cove for this basic expectation of dependable transportation access, and calls upon Congress to immediately pass new legislation approving a land corridor for the construction of a permanent life-saving road linking the community of King Cove to the Cold Bay Airport.”
NCAI President Brian Cladoosby signed the resolution of support during the organization’s mid-year conference, which wrapped up on July 1 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I know first-hand what it’s like to wait for help to come during horrible weather,” Kuzakin said. “I was medevaced for an emergency caesarian section two years ago by the Coast Guard when no one else would come. My daughter and I could have died. We are so grateful for NCAI’s support. We’re hopeful this will lead to construction of a road, which is the most viable and commonsense solution for our community.”
The people of King Cove have battled for more than three decades to get a life-saving road corridor linking the isolated community to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport, located just 25 miles away. The small stretch of road needed (approximately 11 miles) would connect to existing roads in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The road would provide reliable and safe transportation to medevac seriously ill or injured patients during frequent periods of harsh weather when travel by plane or boat is too dangerous.
In 2009, Congress and the President approved the road and a massive land swap (61,000 acres from the State and the King Cove Corporation) in exchange for a small, 206-acre, single-lane gravel road corridor to the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport. Following an environmental impact statement, which King Cove residents believe was biased, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the road and land exchange just two days before Christmas 2013. On June 4, 2014, King Cove tribes, the corporation, the city and the Aleutians East Borough sued Jewell and other federal officials over the EIS and the road issue. Last month, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved legislative language by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, directing the Interior Department to do an equal-value land transfer to allow the construction of a connector road.
For more information, visit http://www.aleutianseast.org/ .
Aleutians East Borough
Office: (907) 274-7579