The proposed mine would sit on a spot of tundra near Lake Iliamna – a 1,000 square mile freshwater lake surrounded by native Nondalton, Iliamna and other villages. The mine promises an economic boost to the now “poor” villages. The issue is, how do you define “poor?” In terms of money and economic wealth, yes the villagers could use a boost.
But, there are many other riches to be found in this pristine country – sustainable lifestyles consisting of primarily locally harvested foods, including the freshest sockeye salmon, black bear, moose meat, and berries; and tourism based on hunting and fishing. Now, the hunting and fishing lodges are filling up with mining and company workers and the locals fear that, even from a mine 12 miles away, their food sources will be contaminated.
What’s the best solution? Its hard to say – – Will the mine actually bring lasting financial wealth to the local villagers? Will the containment measures promised by Northern Dynasty keep the air, water and soil clean enough for continued subsistence lifestyles? What other effects could the mine have on this wilderness area, that provides more services than easily visible – carbon sequestration, social & community values, bio-diversity, and the list goes on. This debate is not new, nor is it easy….let’s just hope that whatever the result is that people, wilderness & wildlife continue to flourish in the beautiful part of Alaska!
Read more and hear interviews with local villages at NPR.ORG >>