Native council announces opposition to Alaska gold mine

Published: Aug. 12, 2019 at 11:46 AM AKDT
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— An Alaska Native council has announced its opposition to a proposed gold mine project, a report said.

The Quinhagak Native Tribal Council has issued a resolution opposing the Donlin Gold mine project, KYUK-AM reported Friday.

Council members are concerned residents will leave Quinhagak for work at the mine site 280 miles (451 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Many younger men may leave and take entire families, while women and elders would need to hunt and fish for the community, said Council President Darren Cleveland.

“We feel that if it becomes real, that instead of slow trickle of people moving out, all of a sudden a group of people just moving and it would be a culture shock for families,” Cleveland said.

A mining accident could contaminate the main food source for the village near a Kuskokwim River tributary, Cleveland said, although Quinhagak is almost 200 miles (322 kilometers) away.

“That could be devastating for our way of life that has always been, and we don’t want to add on risks that are already being done,” Cleveland said.

The declaration is meant to show support for tribes closer to the mine that have passed resolutions against Donlin Gold, he said.

The 12 other tribes with opposition resolutions in the past year include Chefornak, Chevak, Chuloonawick, Eek, Emmonak, Kasigluk, Kongiginak, Kwigillingok, Napakiak, Nunapitchuk, Tuluksak, and Tununak.

“If there was mining here in our area, we’d want the support of other tribes to help us out to be against it,” Cleveland said.

Donlin Gold did not immediately respond to KYUK’s request for comment.