Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Teresa Spezio

Reader 2

Char Miller

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@ 2019 Kate K McWilliams


The communities of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in rural Southwest Alaska are living mosaics of the historical and sociological processes that have taken place since human populations first called this region home. These ongoing processes include integration of the cash economy, government-mandated assimilation, and the struggle to maintain infrastructure in an extreme climate and geographically isolated region of Alaska. In many aspects, the culture and people of this region are disadvantaged by the injustices of settler colonialism, perpetuated by state and federal policies. This thesis aims to describe social inequity in the YK Delta region through a comparison of solid waste management infrastructure and access to resources in the region’s hub city versus the surrounding villages. I will analyze the processes that allow predominantly Alaska Native villages to be exposed to environmental contamination—from policy to practice. Lastly, I will argue that State and Federal government is neglecting remote, Alaskan villages by failing to provide protective policy and access to adequate infrastructure. The devaluation of remote, Alaska Native communities creates an immense public health issue and case for environmental racism.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.