In the mid-1990s, Kake Tribal, Klukwan and Goldbelt - all Alaska Native corporations in the region - formed the Berners Bay Consortium for the purpose of training and placing shareholders in jobs with Coeur Alaska's Kensington Mine.
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We agreed to cooperate with and support Coeur Alaska under two conditions: They employ a significant number of Alaska Natives during the construction and operational phases, and that they build a clean mine which would not adversely affect subsistence resources or commercial fisheries.
Since then, we have supported the Kensington Mine because Coeur Alaska has lived up to the bargain.
Over the years, I've helped create, have served on and chaired up to a dozen subsistence organizations. If I thought Coeur Alaska threatened subsistence resources in any way, I would not be involved. In fact, I would be a vocal critic.
For Alaska Natives, subsistence is not only a deeply felt way of life but a foundation of our modern world. It requires having good, well-paying jobs by which our families can be supported and young people can build their lives in the region. Coeur Alaska is providing these employment and career development opportunities.
This mine will open, and it will become operational. Of this, I have no doubt. The question is whether the Kensington Mine opens in a timely fashion or is further delayed by the continued obstructionist efforts of the few extremists in the environmental groups that have always opposed this project. I appeal to these groups to reconsider their tactics, which can only serve to delay this project, put people out of work and make Southeast Alaska and Juneau, in particular, appear unfriendly to business development - even when that development assists the unemployed and underemployed of our region.
President, Kake Tribal Corp.
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