Fuel costs top the list of Alaskan village worries

In the Norton Sound village of Koyuk, it takes gas to catch fish and hunt for seals and birds. Melvin Otton, a carpenter and village council president, estimates that fuel costs have doubled in the past year, meaning two or three hunters sometimes pool their money for a single trip.

"You might have to not buy your children a shirt or a pair of pants or shoes, so you can go hunt that one more time," said Otton, who came to Anchorage this week for the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention.

In Nightmute, where heating fuel costs $8.04 a gallon, there have been sad incidents of families stealing fuel by siphoning it from their neighbors, said Paul Tulik, a 34-year-old council member.

"I just forgive them right away," Tulik said, "because I know they're trying to heat their homes, like I am."

Alarmed about the high price of fuel in rural communities and the potential loss of population to cities, Natives from around the state gathered here Thursday for the convention's first day.

Read the complete story at