Dear Governor Parnell, Mr. Moller, Ms. Jollie, Mr. Black and others,
After reading the article in the [Alaska] Dispatch, I am gravely concerned and worried even more so than before about what this winter will bring to rural Alaska.
Not only is the lack of both subsistence and commercial fishing, greatly diminishing our ability to put away fish for the winter but also the lack of funds brought in from commercial fishing is now making it hard, if not impossible, for rural Alaskans to put away other subsistence game.
Moose season is now. The birds are flying now. Now is the time to be out hunting for seals and whales. All of these types of game are critical for us to survive this winter. If we cannot purchase gas to go out and hunt then I fear this winter we will have a crisis of much greater proportions than last winter. Last winter we were able to depend a little bit on other game that we had put up for the winter since we were lacking fish.
It looks like this winter that option will not be available to many rural Alaskans because they simply cannot afford the gas and other necessities required to go out hunting.
I am quite confident in saying that none of us want to again have to rely on food and fuel drives to keep rural Alaska from having to make the choice between feeding their families or heating their homes this winter. Additionally, I am certain that ADF&G will NOT open up commercial fishing of Coho Salmon to try to help rural Alaskans earn some money for fuel. Even if they do, there might not be a market for them and the money that might be made probably won’t do much to avert another crisis this winter.
So what can we do??? I know that a fisheries disaster declaration went to Washington DC. But let's be realistic, even if a disaster is declared the help and funds will be slow to come. Although these monies and aid will help, they will not bring back the birds, the seals, the whales and other game we need to put away for winter.
There has to be something we can do NOW. Fuel vouchers for gas so we can hunt now before the game heads south? There has to be some type of emergency funding available to help rural Alaskans now, so we can try to put away enough game to make it through the winter.
Last winter the BIA stepped in and helped. Who can help NOW? I refuse to think that there isn't something that can be done now. We have been seeing the warning signs for months. Winter is fast approaching. Help and solutions need to happen NOW before people have to make the same life threatening decisions they had to make last winter.
Step up NOW, help NOW! Come up with solutions NOW before we have a much bigger crisis than last winter.
Rural Alaskans will tell you NOW is the time we need help, NOW is the time to help prevent another crisis this winter. NOW before winter sets in is the time to do something, not later when we start getting reports of families going without food or going cold this winter.
Please do your jobs, help your people! We are telling you NOW that there is a high risk for a repeat of last year’s crisis only this year it looks to be much worse than last years. Don't ignore us, don't wait until we are freezing and going without food to hear us. Help EMPOWER us NOW, to keep us from having another crisis this winter. Last winter was hard; this winter looks like it’s going to be worse. We need to start coming up with solutions for not only this winter but also what about next year and after that? Plan ahead, come up with solutions now, let’s not keep going through the same thing year after year. Don’t ignore us and placate us until we are in a full emergency crisis winter after winter.
Coming up with solutions and preventative measures now will not only empower us but also will save hard earned taxpayers money now and in the future I am sure.
Quyana Cakneq in advance for your attention to this serious matter. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you. This letter is an open letter to not only all of you but also will be posted on my blog and cc’d to various media and blogs.
image - subsistence fishing on the lower Yukon, 2008 - Oysters4me