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KNBA News - Tribes add to AVCP special meeting agenda; Renowned economist Arlon Tussing dead at 82

Tribes seek info on layoffs, alleged mishandling of federal funds at AVCP

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Jan. 19, 2016

Four tribes in western Alaska are calling on the Association of Village Council Presidents to broaden the focus of a special meeting originally intended to address regional governance, and to set a date for the gathering. AVCP is the regional nonprofit serving the 56 villages in the Yukon and Kuskokwim river deltas.

On Jan. 8th, KYUK in Bethel reported it had obtained documents showing AVCP used grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to keep a vocational flight school going. In December, AVCP laid off 30 employees, 7% of its work force, citing budget troubles. AVCP also announced pay cuts for employees.

Mike Williams, Sr., with the Akiak tribal council, said the sudden layoffs may leave people unable to pay for stove fuel or electricity.

"“Yeah, the majority live in Bethel and a lot of those are in the villages. So they’re left out in the cold," said Williams,  "and we’re very concerned about that,” said Williams.

He said the tribes of Akiak, Akiachak, Kwethluk and Tuluksak, along with several others along the Yukon River, want to find out more than they’ve been told:

“I think in that meeting, we can close the door and find out what’s really going on,” said Williams.

Last year, the regional for-profit corporation Calista created a group to study problems with legislation affecting Alaska Native people and organizations. The group came up with three options to give Natives a stronger voice: to strengthen AVCP, create a borough, or create a new regional tribal government with regulatory and taxation capabilities.

In an October meeting, tribal representatives voted to hold a special meeting on governance in February. AVCP Administrators have not yet approved or announced a meeting date. AVCP administrators were not available for comment in time for this report.


Renowned economist ArlonTussing dead at age 82

The poem on the cover reads: "Now the wisdom and words of one Arlon Tussing seem to always engender contention and cussing. Personally, I rather like a guy who bowls over idols and spits in the eye of traditionally parroted sacred writ. You know: the old 'program/development' bit." By Jay Hammond (Alaska Governor 1974-82)
Credit Courtesy of Arlon Tussing's daughter Maya Lis Tussing,

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By JoaqlinEstus, KNBA - Anchorage

An economist who played an important role in the shaping of modern Alaska has passed away. Dr. ArlonTussing began his work in Alaska at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Economics in 1965, then worked for the Institute of Social and Economic Research and advised the director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

According to a biography of Tussing in the state's 2013 Revenue Sources Book, Tussing was an economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in the early 1970s, when it was chaired by Sen. Scoop Jackson of Washington.

There, economist John Tachotsky said Tussing had a hand in major legislation affecting Alaska's vast land base - including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which transferred title to 44 million acres of land to for-profit Native corporations, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA, which created more than 100 million acres of national parks and refuges:

“He was part of a group known in Alaska as Scoop's troops and they were involved in ANCSA legislation, and ANILCA, the original precursors to ANILCA legislation,” said Tachotsky. “So he was the economist who participated in the Federal Field Commission, which helped evaluate all the federal land.”

Tussing also worked on legislation authorizing the creation of the TransAlaska Pipeline, and helped evaluate damages after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989.

He later became a consultant to the energy industry, where Tachotsky said, Tussing played an influential role in the restructuring of U.S. natural gas development and marketing.

[In the] Mid 70s, people thought there was no gas, the world was running out of natural gas,” said Tachotsky. “And he, basically through the process of deregulation, and by removing price controls, industry had the incentive to look for gas, and, of course, there was plenty of as to find.”

Tachotsky said Tussing spoke and read Japanese, traveled in Asia extensively, and in his mid-50s met and talked with Native hunters in the Russian far north, when temperatures were 50 below:

"He had his fingers in everything and it was because he has, had this insatiable curiosity. He was really a genius,” said Tachotsky. “He really taught me that a true genius are people who can sees patterns that other people can't see, that look unrelated but actually exist.”

Tussing is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 300 books and publications on topics ranging from energy and public utilities to marine fisheries.

ArlonTussing was 82 years old, retired and living in California. He died Friday evening [Jan. 15].

Note: revised Jan. 19 to add the photo.