During a key subsistence report at the 2013 AFN Convention, Native leaders stressed the vital importance of customary and traditional fishing and hunting across Alaska and asserted Alaska Native families’ rights to food security.
“A few years ago, our fish camps were vibrant and lively with children working together with parents, elders, extended families,” Myron Naneng, AFN Subsistence Committee Co-Chair said. “Now they sit empty.”
Dr. Rosita Worl, the committee’s other co-chair, reiterated AFN’s commitment to the long-term goal of achieving full and lasting federal protections for the Alaska Native hunting, fishing and gathering way of life, and a co-equal role in the management of fish, wildlife and other renewable resources that form the basis for our economic and cultural existence.
Dr. Worl said that AFN is also working with AVCP and TCC, as well as the Ahtna tribes to advance several demonstration projects.
Myron Naneng and Jerry Isaac shared details about the AVCP/TCC proposal that would create Inter-Tribal Fish Commissions for the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and require the Secretary to enter into cooperative and funding agreements with these Commissions for the conservation and management of fishery resources in both river drainages.
“Last year, fishermen were cited as criminals for fishing for their family,” said Myron Naneng. “They must continue their nutritional cultural and spiritual connection to salmon we live off.” Naneng presented the Inter-Tribal Fish Commission demonstration project as a cooperative means of addressing the steep decline of salmon on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers. “Who bears the burden of conservation? The people who live there. Despite our knowledge, gathered over generations, we are not included in role of management of these fisheries.”
The Ahtna demonstration project would allow the tribes in the region to manage wildlife on Ahtna and other Native-owned lands, and create a Federal/State/tribal co-management structure. Michelle Anderson, President of Ahtna, Inc., accompanied by Roy Ewan, Eleanor Dementi, and Nick Jackson shared further details. Because of its accessibility to the road system, the Ahtna region has historically seen pressure from heavy hunting by urban hunters.
Roy Ewan explained, “It’s more than just meat on the table. It’s a connection to our ancestor’s a way of life that we are so wanting to continue.”
Michelle Anderson added that these demonstration projects could be models of success to be used in the near future. “We do a good job with this, we can replicate it throughout Alaska.”
To watch the entire Subsistence Committee Report, click here: https://vimeo.com/79417827