The state of Alaska and the federal government allows the commercial fishing industry to over harvest our fish. Picking seaweed is unlawful anywhere in Alaska except a few places in the Southeast Alaska area. How absurd is that? Recently, Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement troopers issued citations to seaweed pickers in Seward. Herring row fisheries are all but gone in the Ketchikan area, and don't blame the subsistence users. Blame it on the bad management of all our natural resources by the state and federal government. These people regulated to near extinction abalone, king crab, geoducks, sea merchants, herring and sea cucumbers, and allowed the hooligan run to disappear in the Unuk River.
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We as Alaska Natives have to take part of the blame for allowing the Caucasians to take control (of our natural resources) in the first place. Let's face the facts, the Native leadership we have today is doing nothing! We have become cowards of our own destiny. We have our own Indian Reorganization Act council governments, Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood camps and Tlingit-Haida Central Council. What are they doing? Our leadership is doing nothing to protect our inherent right to subsist off the land and sea since time immemorial. Talk the talk, but never walk the walk!
Now that I aired out my personal feelings on the matter, let's look at Metlakatla. They control their destiny. They have their own fisheries and told the State of Alaska and federal government what they are going to do and did it. What is the lesson? We as real owners of Alaska have to be aggressive and sacrifice some hardships to get what belongs to us and take control of our natural resources. We will pick seaweed in April. We will dig up clams for fundraisers. We will shoot a seal and a deer for a potlatch.
It's time to fight for what is ours. Remember, I am not your enemy. It is the Caucasian people that is raping you and killing our tribes. Just like taking the herring from the king salmon. It is our food. We as Native people are part of the food chain. What is the difference? Learn your language, history and get your tribe moving.
Don Hoff Jr.
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