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Tribal Organization Launches Campaign to Protect Traditional Way of Life and Community Health


June 19, 2012, Fort Yukon, AK – Last week, the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG), in association with the Tribal Government of Beaver, launched a campaign to promote and protect the traditional way of life, including the health of traditional lands, waters, and resources, of the Yukon Flats.

Beaver residents came together at a community event to share concerns of increasing regulations, permitting, and ticketing restricting subsistence hunters and fishers access to food.  The community which relies on subsistence shared these stories in the face of record-low numbers of fish and game. The campaign event follows a CATG conference in Venetie earlier this month focusing on environmental risks of increased mining activity in the Chandalar watershed.

“Hunting and fishing provide for our families, with so many state and federal subsistence laws it is difficult to do so. We don’t actually know when we’re doing something illegal. I’m law enforcement and it is not clear,” said Clinton Wiehl of Beaver. “Even when we’re totally in the clear we’re still nervous when we see a plane flying over.”

Advocates recorded the stories of injustice: rural Alaskans fearing criminalization to feed their families, while commercial fishing, mining operations, and corporations continue to benefit, contradicting the subsistence priority as mandated by ANILCA.

“Our fathers and mothers should not be criminalized for feeding their families healthy foods, the traditional fish and game they have relied on for centuries,” said Ben Stevens of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments. “The Tribes seek food security, at a time when food is becoming scarcer our families are in the eye of the storm.  A gallon of milk in our communities is nearly $15, a loaf of white bread is $6. Upholding federal laws that protect subsistence rights in Alaska is just one critical solution.”

The Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments is a grassroots organization founded in 1985 on the principals of tribal self-governance, working to empower and build capacity of local member Tribal Governments to build healthy, thriving, self-sufficient communities. Visit www.catg.org.

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