After listening to testimony from Ahtna President and AFN Board Member Michelle Anderson and AFN Co-Chair Tara Sweeney, Alaska Congressman Don Young said he will push for change to Alaska’s management of fish and game.
“The idea that only one side manages game is wrong,” Young said. “To blindly stick our heads in the sand and do nothing is not permissible as far as I am concerned.”
Young called the March 14 hearing to bring stakeholders together to discuss the proposed pilot project under draft legislation called The Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act. The proposal heard before the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs would allow Ahtna Inc. and eight tribal governments to form a commission to manage hunting for caribou, moose and other animals in the Copper River region. The State of Alaska declined to testify.
Anderson testified, “A lot of our elders have empty freezers this winter. That means, too, that our children are not being raised on our traditional foods.” She explained that Alaska Natives need a real seat at the table, with state and federal managers.
“To be honest, we would be taken more seriously,” Anderson said. “Right now we’re just a voice complaining about these people coming on to our lands.”
Tara Seeney added in her testimony, “The issue of food security for Alaska Natives has always been a controversial issue, and we’re here to stand behind the people of the Ahtna Region. It’s going to impact a very small portion of the state.”
Young was critical of social media remarks by anti-Native subsistence groups who claim, according to Young, that “things are fine and shouldn’t be change.” “I will tell you, this is something I believe in or I wouldn’t do it, and it’s at great jeopardy that I do this. But if I don’t do this, why am I here?”
Links to news coverage of the hearing: