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Slideshow: The Villages That Depend on ANCs

Congress created the system of Alaska Native Corporations with the promise of bringing prosperity to a scattered indigenous population stuck in poverty. Decades later, the villages of Chenega Bay, Akiak and Napaskiak testify to the broad gap in benefits ANCs provide.

Main story: Villages Testify to Disparity in Benefits Alaska Native Corporations Provide

Top: 500 miles separate the Alaskan villages served by the Chenega Corp. (in blue) and Calista Corp. (in yellow) ANCs. Left: 1. Napakiak, 2. Napaskiak, 3. Bethel and 4. Akiak. Right: 1. Chenega Bay.

The village of Chenega Bay sits on the tip of a cove amid an isolated chain of islands in the Prince William Sound. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

A view of the Kuskokwim River from Akiak. For many villagers the salmon they catch from the river provides food for the winter. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

According to U.S. Census figures, about 400 people live in the village of Napaskiak. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

The museum in Chenega Bay displays bottles, a candlestick, and fragments of dishes found in the old village, which was wiped out by a tsunami in 1964. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

Chenega Corp. built the village a new Russian Orthodox Church with a royal blue cupola. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

In many villages Russian Orthodox or Moravian Churches are the dominant buildings. This is the church in Napaskiak. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Graffiti on the side of a steam house in Napaskiak. In Yu’pik culture steam baths are used for relaxation and meditation. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

When the astronaut Rex Walheim toured Alaska speaking to students in 2004, Chenega Corp. paid for him to fly to the remote village. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

Chenega Corp. paid for barriers to protect the cemetery after residents complained that a snowplow had snapped some of the patriarchal crosses. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

David Maxie in his home in Napaskiak. He recently received state funding so that his daughter could work as his paid attendant. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Darrell Totemoff poses with one of the dividend checks he receives regularly from Chenega Corp. Behind him is a Ford Explorer he bought with dividends from the Chenega's profits. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

Cards litter the floor of the Akiak Bingo Hall the morning after BINGO night. In many villages, BINGO is popular. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Steve Grajewski, a village teacher, said the school seems a lot better off than in other villages in which he's taught. Chenega Corp. has funded cultural programs, such as teaching students to make bentwood hats. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

There are no stores in Chenega Bay, so residents have to buy bulk groceries that are flown in. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

A view of the Head Start building in Akiak. Many of the buildings have boarded windows to prevent young people from breaking in. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Ivan Ivan, Akiak's village administrator, shows off the smokehouse where he cures salmon for the winter. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Maggie Totemoff holds Black Bear. When the Yorkie mix injured its back, her son Darrell chartered a flight to see a specialist in Anchorage and paid $4,000 for the surgery. (Photo by Michael Grabell/ProPublica)

In August, a gallon of milk at a Bethel grocery store cost nearly $9. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

The Kuskowim River winds through the Calista region. Travel from villages must be done by boat or air. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

The original Akiak school still stands near the Kuskokwim River. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

A more modern school, called Arlicaq, was built in Akiak in 2005. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)

Wooden sidewalks connect homes in Napaskiak, where the ground often shifts from melting permafrost. (Photo by Jennifer LaFleur/ProPublica)


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