Spoiling and Sustainability: Water Insecurity, Health, and Indigenous Citizenship in Northwest Alaska


ACLS Fellowship Program




Water insecurity is a significant problem in Alaska Native villages, despite over 45 years of water and sewer projects. Many Iñupiat desire running water as their right as US citizens. Yet they also describe being “spoiled by technology,” reflecting concerns about how treated water systems may negatively change their Indigenous culture. This book project explores these contradictions. It examines how water insecurity affects daily life for the Iñupiat, the history of efforts to address this enduring problem, and how the Iñupiat connect their struggle for water to being spoiled by technology. It argues that spoiling is an Iñupiaq narrative of distress, resistance, and engagement that reflects intertwined struggles for water, health, sustainability, and citizenship as Indigenous Americans.