Alaska Native Village Sanitation Program
Alaskan village sanitation public works and education efforts of the 1950s and 1960s faced a set of challenges particular to the area. The tundra, permafrost and low river gradient impacted drainage; while the winter’s accumulations of snow grime and village refuse remained on the ground through most of the summer.
The difficulties of tapping into reliable, ongoing water supply through the permafrost resulted in the reuse of household water for both cooking and cleaning. In addition, at the initiation of the village sanitation program, toilets and outdoor refuse storage containers were nearly non-existent due to snow drifts and the complications of digging pits in the permafrost.
The Alaska Native Village Sanitation Program, initiated in the 1950s, provided community water supply facilities development, installed adequate household and communal water storage tanks, constructed waste disposal facilities, and promoted fuel conservation strategies.
Lantis’s involvement with Public Health Service sanitation projects during the 1950s culminated in a contract to evaluate the milestones, effectiveness, and ongoing challenges of the Alaska Native Village Sanitation Program’s first five years.
A major thrust of the program was its Sanitation Aide division. This Public Health Service initiative selected village representatives to facilitate local sanitation education efforts. Utilizing a train-the-trainer model, the program provided training in fundamental sanitation principles, including the importance of safe water supply and sewage and refuse disposal.
The collection includes Lantis's village sanitation field notes, photographs, and resulting Public Health Service publications. Notes from a 1957 Native Village Sanitation quarterly meeting list the following program priorities for the year’s final quarter:
- Air back pressure devices for protecting water supply lines during freezing temperatures
- Outside water storage tanks for houses and businesses
- Composter waste disposal units
- Chemical toilets
- Lakes used to harvest ice for drinking water should be kept free of travel
- Dogs should be tethered in designated village areas rather than the home’s front door
- The why's and how to's of germ theory
- The why's and how to's of boiling water
- The why's and how to's of central waste disposal sites
- The why's and how to's of fly and mosquito control in the summer camps
- The why's and how to's of proper food preparation and storage facilities