Wainwright, Alaska residents protest lack of mail service

According to Nashookpuk and other Wainwright residents, the lack of mail service stems from USPS’ hiring of a postmaster who left during the summer and Christmas holidays with her partner, who taught at the school. When the employee left for the summer holiday, Nashookpuk said he worked with USPS to hire a local relief worker who could open the post office a few days a week.

But at the end of June, that worker abruptly left, leaving the community blindsided.

A USPS spokesperson said that the organization was also surprised by the “unforeseen lack of staffing” and say in an email they are actively looking to fill the relief position that was vacated.

The spokesperson for USPS in Denver, Colorado continued, “We know how important the mail is to our customers in Wainwright and we apologize for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure.”

He emphasized that the costs of housing, living expenses, and travel can be steep for small, off-the-road-system communities, and that makes recruiting all the more difficult. Still, he says that he is working closely with the mayor of Wainwright to assist with recruiting a local to fill the relief position — until the full time worker returns in the fall.

But that still doesn’t solve the issue of undelivered and damaged mail.

Nashookpuk says that he runs a small delivery business embroidering logos onto shirts and jackets. He says he ordered a shipment in mid-May and was told that the jackets would arrive in mid-June. When the order finally showed up on July 11, only about half of it was there.

“A lot of things were damaged. I still haven’t even heard a response for a damaged receipt for my business,” he said.

That leaves the community of Wainwright, and others like it, feeling like they are without recourse.

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