Subsistence needs solidarity

Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2000

Considering some 43,000 urban Natives would have lost their subsistence rights under Gov. Knowles, Sen. Stevens and Secretary Babbitt's proposed amendments to Alaska's constitution, did the rural Natives really want to deprive the urban Natives of the subsistence rights? I do not think so.

The effect of those amendments would have not only deprived 43,000 urban Natives of their subsistence rights but would also surrender control of all Alaska's fish and game to the whims of the current federal regulator. The state of Alaska has had a decade of trying to manage hunting on some federal lands under the whims of the current federal regulator and it has been so unsuccessful that the Department of Fish and Game has quit trying. The issues need to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, something that only the governor can do.

The press has repeatedly stated that the Alaska Federation of Natives supported the Knowles amendments, but the membership never supported the amendments. Such support as Knowles did have was waning among both the Natives and the Legislature and as of the last AFN special session, Feb. 15, is now gone.

I have no doubt that the federal government intends to abolish all Native subsistence rights like they have done in Glacier Bay and are doing in Cook Inlet.

If we do not stand together, we will all be hung separately.

Jerry McCutcheon



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