BIA defends use of federal funds for ferry project in Alaska village

The Bureau of Indian Affairs says the Seldovia Village Tribe in Alaska has not misused federal funds for a ferry project that has become politically controversial.

The BIA awarded the tribe nearly $2 million in 2004 and the tribe received another $675,000 this year for the project. In total, more than $9 million in federal funds, plus another $1.5 million in state funds, have been spent in the village, whose population was 144 on the 2000 Census.

"These contracts were monitored by a BIA awarding official and an awarding official's technical representative that provided oversight and technical assistance through the duration of the project," Eugene Virden, the acting BIA regional director in Alaska, told The Homer Tribune.

But Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) disagrees. He supported the project but now says the tribe has turned the ferry into a commercial tourism operation instead of using it for public transportation.

"The bottom line is that the money is being misused, and BIA should be investigating fully," a spokesperson for Young told the paper.

The tribe disputes Young about the characterization of the M/V Kachemak Voyager as a tour boat. The tribe says the ferry fits in with plans to boost economic development in the area.

Get the Story:
Ferry funds not misused (The Homer News 7/21)
Tribe hopes economic stimulus can save Seldovia (The Homer Tribune 7/21)

Earlier Story:
Seldovia Village Tribe hopes to beef up Homer ferry port (The Homer Tribune 6/7)