Natives versus native Alaskans

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In response to Don Hoff Jr.'s letter of July 10: He is correct in stating that it is the commercial fishing industry that has over harvested our fish. And I agree with his statement that the Native people of Alaska need to learn their language and history, and should harvest for subsistence purposes.

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Where I disagree with Mr. Hoff is when he talks about the Caucasian people who are raping you. If Mr. Hoff had ever spent any time in the correctional system in this state, he would see that most of the rapes and sexual molestation cases involving Alaska Natives are perpetrated by other Natives. Or maybe that is not really what he is referring to.

As a native Alaskan who has buried two grandfathers, not to mention other relatives in this town, I find the whole concept of Alaska Native over native Alaskan subsistence rights appalling. My uncles hunt the same woods as yours, they fish the same waters, and they will be buried some day in the same ground.

How can Mr. Hoff even speak about Alaska, when he is residing in Hixson, Tenn.? If he is speaking of the rape of the natural resources, then I would like to know how the Native corporations make their money, and how many Natives commercial fish, log and mine.

I find it amusing that he has issues with the federal government, the same government that would deny me the right to a subsistence halibut permit, and yet it would unquestionably grant the same permit to any Native living in a major urban center in this state, regardless of need.

I consider myself first and foremost an Alaskan. I was born here, have lived my life here and will die and be buried here, as my grandfathers before me. I also eat Native foods, attend potlatches, 40-day parties and Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood memorials, and I have a daughter, who is Eagle/Wolf and whom I love more than life itself.

At what point does a Native Alaskan such as myself become an Alaska Native? I also will pick seaweed, eat dry fish and seal oil, and do what I need to subsist in this land that I also call home.

Shaun McMahon


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