Alaska tribes sending food to areas without ferry service

February 28, 2020 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A group of Native tribes in Alaska started a food and supplies drive for communities struggling with a lack of ferry service, an official said.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is preparing to make the first shipment in the state’s southeast, The Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

State ferry service was temporarily halted. Many communities that rely on the Alaska Marine Highway Service for freight transport have struggled to obtain enough supplies for residents.

The tribal council asked for donations of food, toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products and cat and dog food.

Jamiann Hasselquist, administrative assistant for Tlingit and Haida, organized the effort and said the group was inspired by a similar food drive organized recently by Sitka’s Alaska Native Sisterhood camp.

“It’s part of our traditional values to lift, hold each other up,” Hasselquist said.

Shipments are expected to be sent by air. But flights can be grounded by bad weather and are limited in the amount of freight they carry.

Tlingit and Haida have multiple locations around Juneau where supplies can be dropped off for what Hasselquist hopes will be weekly deliveries.

Hasselquist is also working to connect with local entities making similar efforts including Super Bear Supermarket IGA in Juneau, which has already collected and sent supplies to communities in need.

Donations of either food or money can be made at Super Bear, while monetary donations can be made on the Tlingit and Haida website.

“We want to send things until people have (ferry) service,” Hasselquist said. “It doesn’t look like the ferries will have complete and consistent service for quite some time.”