UIC Instrumental in Village Relocation
UIC Bowhead Transport’s M/V Unalaq at the barge landing in Mertarvik, dropping off the new power module built and installed by by UIC Construction.
Threatened by frequent, storm-driven erosion and flooding, the village of Newtok located on the Ninglick River in Southwest Alaska has been in the process of relocating nine miles up-river to Nelson Island and the new village site of Mertarvik since early summer.
Bowhead Transport, LLC, a subsidiary of UIC, was busy for most of the summer hauling construction materials and supplies on its 150 foot long shallow draft, ocean-going vessel, the M/V Unalaq into Mertarvik. The vessel’s shallow draft made it possible to navigate up the Ninglick River and off-load at the shallow draft landing site. Residents were heard saying they had never seen such a large boat so close to their village. The Unalaq is close to five stories tall.
UIC Construction completed the new Mertarvik runway in time for the start of construction on homes and facilities.
“Project Mertarvik” as it was called, basically involved building a village from the bottom up. Another of UIC’s subsidiaries, UIC Construction, LLC (UICC), started in the fall of 2018 building roads, a new camp, houses, a new landfill, and a new runway. UICC also built and installed a new power module. This is the first time in history that Mertarvik has a permanent power source. With the help of the US military later in June and throughout the summer, Mertarvik is now ready for the first round of residents of Newtok to call it home.
UIC and its subsidiaries have been involved in different ways to help ensure the sustainability and safety of the Newtok residents as well as providing updated facilities and infrastructure for the village of Mertarvik.
The interior of a recently finished Mertarvik home, built by UIC Construction.
A view of Mertarvik on one of many trips to the village.
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50 Years of ANSCA
Fifty years ago, as the Watergate scandal swirled around then-President Richard Nixon, he signed into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). It was the largest land claims settlement in the nation’s history and a stark departure from agreements forced on Tribes in the Lower 48.