Murkowski Bill Would Boost Alaska Village Development

Alaskan and Hawaiian Senators Team Up To Extend Global Aid Approach to Rural Alaska

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced the Native American Challenge Demonstration Act (NACDA) of 2011 – with co-sponsors Senators Mark Begich and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) – to create the same opportunities for America’s First People that countries worldwide receive, in terms of U.S. investment. “There’s a lot of talk about nation-building and sending American funds around the world to needy areas,” said Senator Murkowski. “But Alaska Natives all too frequently face the same challenges of underdevelopment and infrastructure shortcomings, right here on American soil – they deserve the same helping hand.”

The bill is modeled after the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, under which the United States government awards funds to developing nations to reduce poverty and expand economic opportunity.  Recognizing that many American Indians, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives live in underdeveloped regions, the NACDA would invest in communities that show a readiness for development by cutting violent crime, reducing legal and regulatory barriers, and improving education.

“I’m proud to continue the fight to give rural Alaska and Alaska Native communities the tools they need to create sustainable communities,” said Sen. Begich. “These demonstration projects allow tribes to determine the course and future of their communities and go a long way to addressing the alarming rates of unemployment and poverty in our tribal areas across the country.”

"The demonstration projects created by this bill will help us find more effective ways to promote economic development in Native American communities, where unemployment rates are often more than double the national average and one-third of the people live in poverty," said Senator Akaka.  "I am pleased to work with Senator Murkowski on bipartisan strategies to strengthen economic opportunities."

NACDA, if passed, would aim to reduce poverty in rural Native American areas; reward constructive and industrious initiatives proposed in those areas; allow the U.S. government to serve as a partner, and assist in implementation of the projects, and focus on close oversight to make certain that criteria were met along the project’s path.