|Human health is intrinsically tied to the health of the land, especially in a place like Hoonah where so many of the foods are locally harvested from the sea and forest. Threats to the resources outlined in this document will have profound impact on the health of the people who depend on them, and will be made worse by an increased risk of natural disasters and novel diseases. Local harvesters are concerned about climate change and the effects it will have on local resources; nearly half of survey participants said they were concerned or extremely concerned about the availability or quality of traditional foods in the future. Darlene See, of the HIA cultural department, pointed out that the people of Hoonah have a long history of adapting to climate change, and “we’ve always adapted, but how do you adapt to this?” Tribal members are also worried about the effects that losing traditional resources will have on community dynamics, since sharing food strengthens interpersonal relationships and specific traditional foods are highly sought after for many cultural events.|
WARMER WEATHER WILL EXPAND THE RISK OF PARASITES AND DISEASES.
Patterns of infectious diseases are sensitive to disturbances in the ecological structure of the environment. As weather becomes warmer, and animal populations begin to vary and deviate from typical habitat, some parasite populations will grow and transmission of human-animal diseases will emerge. Over half of tick-borne illnesses in the past hundred years in Alaska are from the past ten years due to range expansion because of warmer weather. Warmer waters also significantly increase the growth of the harmful algal blooms that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, as addressed elsewhere in this document, which can make shellfish and crabs lethally toxic to harvesters.
AIR QUALITY CHANGES WILL INCREASE THE INCIDENCE OF LOWER RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES.
The 2017 air quality monitoring project found that many homes in Hoonah have poor air quality because of wood smoke and poor ventilation from how people heat their homes. Older homes, which are often owned by elders, were particularly likely to have increased harmful micro-particulates. Climate change is likely to make the problem worse, due to the risk of increased forest fires and changing wind patterns that can affect the way smoke travels.
AN INCREASE IN RAINFALL AND SEVERE WEATHER WILL DRIVE AN INCREASE IN LANDSLIDES.
Southeast Alaska is no stranger to landslides, but they are becoming more dangerous and more frequent as weather conditions change. Atmospheric rivers, which deliver about a fifth of the yearly rainfall in Hoonah are responsible for 80 percent of the extreme precipitation, which is what triggers the majority of landslides. The frequency, duration and strength of atmospheric rivers are all predicted to increase in Southeast Alaska over the next century, making lethal landslides more likely. Not only do landslides pose a direct threat to human life, it also poses a large infrastructural risk out the road. Several community members reported feeling unsafe traveling out the road to hunt when there had been large rains recently due to the risk of getting stranded if roads were damaged by large slides such as the one near Spasski River in 2021. Sheryl Contreras pointed out “I’ve noticed that in the last 3-4 years with all the rain we’ve had there have been more mudslides/ That’s a huge impact for hunters–access out the road. And for berries,” and while she doesn’t personally hunt, she depends on her sons bringing her deer.
THREATS TO SUBSISTENCE FOOD WILL HARM BOTH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH.
Traditional foods are a vital element to many tribal members’ diets for both the nutritional and cultural value they add. Store-bought meats and produce can be highly variable and are extremely expensive or simply unattainable. Regular consumption of traditional foods is also linked to better mental health and a reduction in substance abuse issues. A study of citizens of the Syilx First Nation in Canada found that individuals that regularly consumed salmon had better physical health (lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity etc.) as well as reported having better personal connections to their community and traditional lands.
1.1: Continue working with members of the Kuti program to develop a landslide monitoring program for Hoonah.
1.2: Assess the need to monitor for ticks, deer wasting disease and other zoonotic risks to human health.
1.3: Continue work on both indoor and outdoor air quality monitoring and expand current opportunities for home improvements that can improve air quality.
1.4: Continue to work with the City of Hoonah, Forest Service and Central Council to update emergency preparedness plan and educate community members about resources and procedures.
1.5: Continue to work with the SEATOR network to monitor for and educate community members about Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.
2.1: Work with Central Council to develop a tribal subsistence program
2.3: Monitor changes in size and quantity of traditional foods harvested
2.4: Maintain ecological diversity through habitat protection and maintenance
2.5: Create a locally-informed landslide emergency plan
3.3: Invest in efforts to create climate-durable housing – weatherizing, increasing efficiency, education initiatives, etc. 3.4: Create a locally-informed and comprehensive disaster relief plan
maybe this should be a general long term goal for the whole guide
I second this
Something about tracking/anonymous self-reporting of illness? Working with clinic to track incidence of disease to notice patterns (i.e. are resp. illnesses increasing on a community level, changes over time)