Alaska Natives Advocate for Co-Management of Traditional Hunting & Fishing Resources as Criminalization Continues
Grassroots rally unites all Alaska Natives and Allies to use their Vote & Voice to Protect Subsistence
October 21, 2014, Anchorage – Alaska Natives are rallying to demand an end to the criminalization of indigenous hunting and fishing rights and to push the State of Alaska and federal agencies to adopt policies that will allow for co-management of resources. Community leaders insist that state and federal policies are not flexible enough and threaten the food security of subsistence users.
The rally, organized by a statewide coalition of Native individuals and groups, sends a clear message to legislators and politicians that ending failed subsistence policies is a priority for Alaska Natives, come Election Day.
Natives are convening at the “Get Up, Stand Up: Hunt, Fish, Share, Vote Rally” to protect traditional subsistence living after another contentious and devastating fishing season where Tribal Governments passed a self-imposed moratorium on King Salmon to help restore salmon stocks even though it has stressed local health and prosperity.
"The King Salmon have always returned under our traditional management practices, and now they are not due to extreme actions by the state and federal governments to allow excessive commercial exploitation,” said Edward Alexander of Fort Yukon. “We need to return to those traditional practices which have sustained this previously healthy fishery for thousands of years. It is time to explicitly affirm the human rights of the Alaska Native people, and Alaskans as a whole, to harvest in a sustainable and respectful manner. Only by working together can we ensure our mutual survival. The Salmon too have rights, rights to exist, rights to clean water and survival as a species, the right to be treated respectfully and without waste, the right to their headwaters and places of spawning that we must respect if we expect them to return, to be healthy, to thrive and be bountiful.”
The rally highlights Natives’ history of managing land, rivers, and natural resources for thousands of years, their unsurpassed knowledge of the natural environment and the importance of biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem in relation to food security and subsistence. Restrictive regulations and increased punitive enforcement have been detrimental to Natives’ day-to-day lives and consider these symptomatic of structural issues related to the protection and prioritization of tribal sovereignty and subsistence rights, as well as Native cultural tradition and health.
“I am hopeful that one day we will no longer have to struggle against the State for the right to take care of our families in the manner my mother and past ancestors survived.” Said Fred John, son of late Katie John.