Is this the end?

Posted: Sunday, June 23, 2002

I am a troller and have been winter king salmon fishing in Glacier Bay most of my life. I was a crewman and deckhand during the halibut and tanner crab fisheries. I am one of the unsuccessful applicants who was denied a lifetime access permit and for the Glacier Bay Compensation Fund. How can it be justified to deny a direct descendant of Glacier Bay due compensation and due process? The desperate plea to the U.S. Congress requesting oversight hearing has gone unanswered.

The Huna Tlingit, original creators of the local commercial fishing business, have suffered huge negative impacts from the closure of the most productive fishing grounds we had. In the 1980s, the NPS made a closure restricting our ability to follow the fish into Glacier Bay waters now called "wilderness waters." There was no compensation for those lost fishing rights. No impact study was initiated. The Huna Tlingit used Glacier Bay in its entirety and exclusively since the memory of time. The direct descendants of Glacier Bay have received absolutely nothing for all that has been lost to us. How blatant must an injustice be before humanity sets in?

The economic devastation of the Huna people evoked from me parallel thoughts of what the Caucasians have done - and still do - to the indigenous people of Alaska. The Huna people have dreams and ideas of starting a business, of our kids going to school for quality education and training for jobs at home. There are many opportunities available on the horizon that we want to participate in along with the non-Native communities that surround us. But none of this can be done without due capital compensation for the direct descendants of this very place.

My boat is tied up in my stall in the Hoonah harbor. I have no fuel to go king salmon fishing for the $1 a pound the local processor is offering. The front page of the July issue of the Alaska Fishermen's News shows a price of $17.99 per pound for kings at the Fishermen's Market in Seattle.

The government made an error when they forgot about the Hoonah people. I could only hope and pray that this is not to be the true end.

Howard H. Knudson


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