Alaska: Nunakauyarmiut Tribe Protecting our Health (A Former EPA CARE Project)

The summary given below provides a description and documentation of a Toksook Bay, Alaska project that received a Level I cooperative agreement from EPA’s former Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) project in 2006 and a Level II CARE cooperative agreement in 2009. These case studies serve as historic references, and conditions since the project was funded may have changed.

The resources developed for this project provide communities with information about ways that other communities have addressed environmental issues. Communities can use these project results to reduce environmental impacts, understand risks and become stewards of their own environment.


Nunakauyarmiut Tribe (2006)
Toksook Bay, Alaska
EPA Region 10

unakauyarmiut Tribe is the recipient of a Level I CARE cooperative agreement.   The Nunakauyarmiut Tribe is the federally recognized Tribal government in Toksook Bay which is one of the members of the Nelson Island Consortium (NIC) of Caninermiut and Qaluyaat Communities, the closest translation from Yup’ik to English is “Working Together to Keep the Coastal and Nelson Island Communities and Environment Clean.”   In addition to Toksook Bay, the NIC consists of six other tribal communities: Chefornak, Newtok, Nightmute, Umkumiut, Tununak, and Kipnuk.  The villages range in size from 232 to 690 and on average about 25 percent of the community members live below the national poverty line which is not adjusted to take the high cost of living in “roadless” western Alaska into account.  This funding will allow the NIC and the Nunauyarmiut Tribe to work together to meet CARE project goals in Toksook Bay and other Nelson Island communities.  For thousands of years, the peoples of these communities have shared the Nelson Island area lands and waters for subsistence activities and have led a traditional subsistence way of life, including the retention of Yup’ik as their primary language.  The subsistence lands encompass much of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  The communities comprise several of the last few Native communities whose daily language for children, adults and elders is Yup’ik and who lead a fully traditional lifestyle.  Objectives include identifying, prioritizing, and reducing toxics through increased community participation in existing or planned programs and building sustainable community-based partnerships. 

Prospective CARE Partners: Chefornak Clinic, Chefornak School, State Department of Transportation, City of Chefornak, Village of Chefornak Tribal Council, Chefarnrmute Incorporated, Chaputnguak School, Newtok Corporation, Newtok Village Council, Newtok Clinic, Tom’s Store, Ungusraq Power Company, Tununak IRA Council, Paul T. Albert Memorial School, City of Nightmute, Nightmute Power Plant, Chinuruk Incorporated, Nightmute Traditional Council, Umkumiut Village Council, Nightmute Post Office, Nightmute Health Clinic, Nightmute School, Nightmute Enterprises, City of Toksook Bay, Nunakauiak Yupik Corporation, Nunakauyak Traditional Council, Toksook Post Office, Toksook Bay Clinic, Kipnuk Village Council, Association of Village Council Presidents, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Coastal Village Relief Fund, City of Bethel Recycling, US Fish and Wildlife ServiceYukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Lower Kuskokwim School District, NOAA, World Wildlife Fund, University of Alaska: Bethel Kuskokwim Campus, and University of Alaska Fairbanks programs: AMAP, Cold Climate Research, Arctic Climate Research Center. 

Nunakauyarmiut Tribe (Nunakauyak Traditional Council)  (2009)
Protecting our Health:  Implementing a Sustainable Collaborative Approach to Addressing our Priority Toxic Issues, Nelson Island Consortium, Alaska
Toksook Bay, Alaska 
Region 10

The Nunakauyarmiut Tribe, a successful CARE Level I recipient in 2006, has now received a CARE Level II cooperative agreement grant.  Nunakauyak Traditional Council (NTC) is the governing body for the federally recognized Nunakauyarmiut Tribe of Toksook Bay – one of the Nelson Island Consortium members.  Nelson Island and the nearby coastal region are comprised of rural tribal community villages representing a geographic boundary that is both a watershed and traditional-shared land.  These communities, ranging in size from 232 to 690, are several of the last few Native villages whose daily language for children, adults and elders is Yup’ik and who lead a fully traditional subsistence lifestyle.   This grant serves 2,617 people. Of these over 98% are Alaska Native and an average of 25% live below the national poverty line.  The CARE Level I process allowed these Yup’ik villages to collaborate together at the local level to determine risks and strategies concerning environmental hazards.  NTC will execute strategic initiatives that address the priority risks identified through the CARE Level I project, resulting in substantial reduction of those risks. NTC plans to focus on lead acid batteries, household batteries, fluorescent lights, freon gas, and lead weight sinkers. These forms of waste are specifically targeted because they are being discarded at open dump sites and/or subsistence camps potentially exposing children and adults to harmful toxics such as heavy metals, mercury, freon gas, and lead.  NTC will also develop the sustainability of the collaborative partnership that has been initiated with local, regional, state, and federal stakeholders.  Their project will address the multiple environmental stressors that plague the Nelson Island Consortium communities and threaten their unique traditional lifestyle.

Established CARE Partners:  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Alaska Health Department, NOAA/National Weather Service, Coastal Villages Region Fund, Association of Village Council Presidents, Cities of Chefornak, Nightmute, and Toksook Bay, Chefornak Post Office, Lower Kuskokwim School District, Local Schools, Chefarnrmute Incorporated and other Local Stores, all Councils in communities of Toksook Bay, Tununak, Nightmute, Chefornak, Newtok, Kipnuk, Umkumiut.