For several years, particularly during the gubernatorial administrations of Steve Cowper, Wally Hickel and Tony Knowles, it seemed like each legislature would be called back into special session to consider another approach to "solving" the problem.
Title VIII of ANILCA defines subsistence and its rural preference provisions. It is Federal law, and is in conflict with the Alaska Constitution.
Most of these legislative special sessions have been attempts to reshape a clearly defined rural, mostly Alaska Native, preference. Each special session tried to sell a new brand of snake oil.
With more and more citizens, realizing that rural Alaska issues are becoming important again, and the poignant efforts of Emmonak elder Nick Tucker being highlighted most of 2009, we can expect this year to bring focus back onto subsistence more than any year in over a decade.
On Wednesday, March 4th, the University of Alaska Anchorage Community Forum will host a panel on subsistence. Here's their information:
COMMUNITY FORUM Wednesday, March 4th 7:00 to 9:00pm, UAA/APU Consortium Library, LIB 307
The Future of Subsistence
-Larry Merculieff of Seven Generations Consulting
-Anna Phillips Davidson of the Alaska Conservation Foundation
-Tim Andrew of the Association of Village Council Presidents
Panelists will discuss the challenges of applying traditional ways of knowing in subsistence management, and the legal frameworks evolving to accommodate subsistence activities.
The following questions will be addressed:
-What are the challenges to use and applications of traditional ways of knowing in western science and subsistence management?
-Are legal frameworks evolving to accommodate subsistence activities?
-How may subsistence activities and values adapt to climate change in Alaska?
-What other challenges are there to the subsistence ways of life in Alaska?
On Thursday, February 19th, the University of Alaska Debate team hosted a debate and discussion. The debate question was "Should the state of Alaska devote resources to sustain rural villages?”
Alaska Public Radio Network carried a long feature on this, on February 20th. It featured Larry Merculieff, who will be part of Wednesday's discussion, as one of the public participants. Merculieff had this to say:
[Alaska's Native people] don't want something for nothing. I remember sitting just six years ago in front of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, arguing for 1% of the human take of halibut, in Alaska shores, for Alaska Native peoples. One percent. And we got a counter-argument from member of the council that said, "Well, if your population increases, do you want another 1%?"
Wow. Wow! And they got - what? 98% for sport and commercial fishing.
Tlingit activist, artist and political iconoclast, Diane Benson, echoed Merculieff in her statements. Benson said:
Rural New York and urban Southern California don’t sustain themselves. We all sustain each other to one extent or another.
Emmonak has some of the strongest people of spirit anywhere. They are not people looking for a handout.
Regarding the situatation this winter in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Benson added:
If this had happened in Wasilla, if something somehow had prevented people in Wasilla from getting food or fuel, we would have all helped out without thinking anything about it.
Every single person deserves safety, and that responsibility has not been satisfied.
image of Pitkas Point and Yukon Cohoes - oysters4me; Copper River smoked Sockeye - PA