Document Type



This article offers perspective on how Alaska Native Villages (ANVs), which are small and rural indigenous communities, are adapting to changes in flooding and erosion. It considers which adaptations might be maladaptations and what might be done to facilitate adaptation short of relocating entire communities. It outlines the United States' legal framework applicable to flooding and erosion and considers why this framework may do little to assist ANVs and similarly situated small and rural communities. Findings regarding adaptation strategies and obstacles are drawn from my Ph.D. research, which involved a review of plans for fifty nine ANVs and 153 interviews and conversations with ANV residents as well as those outside ANVs who make or influence policy that affects ANVs. Findings also draw from my practical perspective of having lived in and worked for ANVs for several years. While small and rural communities such as ANVs often want to stay in place and avoid retreat, there is a gap between communities and federal institutions in terms of the adaptation strategies that each desire and are able to carry out. Aside from legal reforms, there is a need for better partnerships between communities and external entities so that these communities can more readily obtain adaptation assistance and have a stronger voice in how this assistance takes place.

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