Other side of subsistence

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2000

In response to Patrick McGonegal's letter in Jan. 19 paper, his letter shows a lack of understanding of the Alaska Natives and their culture, which is interesting in itself, as part of what the corporations' job is to educate the non-Native about the Natives. It looks as if the corporations are not doing their jobs very well.

In his letter he states ``the unavoidable evolution of their own people.'' This in fact was and is avoidable in that this is the only way the Non-Natives have treated the Natives of any country that they win control over through war or, as was done to the Alaskan Natives, buying not only the land from people that did not own it, but by also buying a whole race of people. They then took members of the race and forced them to go to the schools set up to educate the Natives, if the Natives wanted to go or not, and then punished the chosen ones for talking Tlingit.

Mr. McGonegal asks if the Natives still live in lodges without the modern fixings. Well many of the Alaskan Natives do live without the modern fixtures. The whites have refused the Natives the same education, the same jobs and the same amount of money for the same work for years. In fact, this type of prejudice still goes on in some cases.

However, I need to point out an important fact that Mr. McGonegal overlooked in his letter. As much as people try to insist that subsistence is a Native issue, it is not just for the Natives. Subsistence is for the people that needed it as well if they are Native or not. Yes, the Natives want the right to eat the same food that their heritage was full of, but the subsistence issue has never been just for them.

One last thing on the subject, the richest person I know makes use of the subsistence system that is now in place, and he is not Native, nor is he married to one. While this is going on the poorest Alaskans, Native or non-Native living in the cities are denied the right to make use of Alaska's natural resources. Please use this answer as a wake up call and find out what all is involved before you once again write about something you seem to know nothing about.

James G. Brouillette Jr.



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