The Nenana Tribe and the radical Native Movement out of Fairbanks have blocked a bridge to the new agricultural district outside of the City of Nenana, where 26 of 27 state parcels have been sold to private entities for the purpose of growing food for Alaska. The tribe and Native Movement say that the bridge to the area belongs to the tribe.
Last week, Natives in Kipnuk, on the coast of Alaska, occupied a school and ended up chasing the principal and the entire teaching staff out of the village.
Now, Natives in the Interior are opposed to small-tract farming. Thus the bridge blockade.
In Nenana, which is south of Fairbanks, the argument the tribe and Native Movement is making is that they own the bridge and right of way to the parcels, and they have the right to block the access. It is illegal to block a historic trail or public right of way.
On the other side of the bridge is city-owned land, private land, state forestry land, university land, and many cabins.
The tribe says that a site agreement, which expired at the end of the project, granted them ownership of the bridge and right of way. The mayor of Nenana, Joshuah Verhagen, says that is a mistaken interpretation of the agreement, and that the site agreement was only until the project was complete.
The bridge was built with a $6 million City of Nenana general obligation bond, and a $9 million federal grant to the tribe to finish the project, which had remained unfinished due to lack of funds, but the funding all comes from American taxpayers, and the City of Nenana has been providing plowing, and is engaged with discussions with the Department of Transportation for a maintenance agreement.
The Nenana Tribe and Native Movement made no protest during the ribbon cutting ceremony two years ago or this past June when Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Division of Agricultural were present for the start of the agriculture parcel sales.
But the tribe is under new leadership and has become radicalized with its relationship with Native Movement, which has staged other “occupy” events in the past, as well as drag queen story hour for children. During the 2020 campaign season, Native Movement activists brought a bloody caribou heart to a campaign rally for Dan Sullivan and tried to throw it at him.
The agricultural area is intended to help food sustainability in Alaska and is part of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s concern about creating a more self-sustaining Alaska food system, which would include farmed food.
The ringleaders behind the protest are hard-line activists who object to the agricultural project because it represents colonialism.
Read the Native Movement interpretation of their actions at their website, at this link.