Northwest Arctic Leadership Team

NWALT hosts one of the largest meetings ever held in the region

Alaska’s political world and national headlines revolved around Kotzebue, Alaska, on Feb. 16, 2015, as the Northwest Arctic Leadership Team (NWALT) welcomed U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, Congressman Don Young, Alaska Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott and members of the Alaska Legislature to discuss Arctic policy issues and tour sections of the Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB).

As part of the scheduled events, a delegation of officials and members of the press toured the community of Kivalina, the Red Dog Mine area and the Noatak National Preserve. NWALT partners and regional tribes were also able to take advantage of several consultation opportunities with federal and state officials. In the evening, the community of Kotzebue held a celebration in honor of the visitors and taught Secretary Jewell how to Eskimo dance.

“It was an incredible opportunity to meet with the people who make the policies that impact our lives and lands,” said NANA President and CEO, Wayne Westlake. “We can go to Juneau and D.C. but there’s nothing as powerful has having policy makers meet the people and see the issues first hand.”

On Feb. 17, her second day in the NANA region, Secretary Jewell announced $8 million in Department of the Interior funding for tribal projects that promote climate change adaptation and ocean and coastal management planning.

“Alaska Native communities are on the front line of a changing climate and live with very real impacts on infrastructure, economic development, personal safety and food security,” said Secretary Jewell via a press release. “The [Obama] Administration remains fully committed to working with local leaders to build more resilient communities and protect the traditions that are central to Alaska Natives’ cultures and identities.”

Following the NWALT day, the Secretary, Alaska Delegation, Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Mallott and other officials attended the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) annual board retreat at the Nullaġvik hotel from Feb. 17 – 18.