Meet the challenge

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2003

It appears our state subsistence law vs. the Native way of life issue is up for another round of public scrutiny and debate. It's a difficult but sensitive issue that continues to appear in the Juneau Empire without too much interest and attention. As one who knows about the Native way of life I learned from parents and grandparents at the Native village Kake, the only Native village located on Kupreanof Island, I decided to do my own spin on this important issue and topic. I do appreciate the Empire and free speech.

My attention focuses on the idea the federal subsistence law, which provides allocation and preference in time of stressful resource depletion, more than satisfies our Native leaders on Capitol Hill. So Rep. Albert Kookesh, an Angoon Democrat, asked whether Natives even want to be at the table when discussing this long-aging subsistence issue. He claims it's an Alaska problem not a Native problem. And the reason why it's not a Native problem is because we already have federal protection on subsistence as a way of life. Of course nothing is wrong with this federal law simply because it recognizes that Natives do depend on the wildlife resource, since time immemorial.

Georgianna Lincoln, a Rampart Democrat, said Natives need to have "a seat at the table" all the time and called on Murkowski to appoint more Alaska Natives to state boards and commission, rightly so. This I'm sure is what we need to help secure the Native way of life as the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity. Should this issue not be settled under Gov. Murkowski's leadership, it's time to consider other ways to secure the safety of our Native way of life. I'm sure many agree that ANCSA of 1971 can be used as a tool to further this end.

ANCSA is a self-made tool we can use to form a better union. Besides our 1776 American Independence document decrees this opportunity. Natives also have every right to call for a constitutional convention to activate this idea or self-determination, which is a human right. Our Alaska Native Brotherhood serves as a blueprint example for this because it gave a people a just constitution of government and a noble independence.

I want to end with a statement I found interesting and alarming in the book titled "Moses," written in the contemporary English by Charles Swindall. A book I got on Christmas as a gift from my grandson and friend, as follows: "Our moment in history and our unique individual circumstances become the anvil upon which our character is beaten out and formed. We will either rise to the challenge of our times, or we will remain stuck on the sidelines."

Franklin "Shkane" Williams Sr.


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