Let's pull together on subsistence issue

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2001

I wonder if my fellow Alaskans know the percentage of fish and game that is taken through the practice of "subsistence." It is about 1 percent of all fish and game taken. The fish and game that is harvested for subsistence use is not sold. This minute percentage that is taken poses no threat to those who fish or hunt for recreation or commercial enterprises.

This is an issue that has the potential to pull our community together not apart. Subsistence, which is not really the right word to use, is about an identity of a people being protected, not about food. Everyone, whether they are rural or urban, should have the right to keep their cultural practices. The gathering and hunting of particular foods are inseparably tied to the Native culture. It is about keeping a cultural alive that fosters a healthy identity of the people that belong to it. I believe the majority of Alaskans support such protection.

Everyone has an identity they wish to be honored and respected. I hope that the Alaska community can make sure that the identity and culture of the citizens of Alaska is protected and supported. One percent is an embarrassing amount to protest over. Whether one is urban or rural is irrelevant, when we consider that the gathering of foods has to do with a cultural identity and not just the acquisition of foods. Let's pull together and support our brothers; we have so much more to gain by doing so. I want my children to grow up respecting others, not watching the people around them degrade one another over perceived differences and unfounded fears.

Angela Martin


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