I am the person who was mentioned in Tuesdays article "State Slaps Guides Wrist." I apologize to anyone who is offended by my picking salmon up out of the water. This was not a constant occurrence. I would walk to the bank at Salmon Creek, discuss how the salmon run in Alaska and as a grand finale, I would pull one out so people could take pictures of it. I wouldn't hold it up for more than three seconds. Afterward I would place the salmon back into the creek. I have done this around 10 times. Why? Because people love it. These folks spend lots of money to come up here to enjoy themselves. Many of them never have seen salmon in a creek before and it's a real treat. Had I known it was against the law, I would not have done this. I have never been told by a Fish and Game authority or fellow citizen(s) not to do this. Unfortunately, my first warning made the front page.
Lt. Folger brought up the subsistence issue from last year. I write this as a Dolphin Jet Boat employee and as an Alaskan Indian. Lt. Folger should be ashamed of himself for trying to make a correlation between my individual act(s) and the subsistence lifestyle. I wonder if the fact that I am Athabaskan changes his perspective. This is not about subsistence and it was not fair to try and make waves over such a controversial issue. I was born and raised in Alaska; fishing has been a big part of my life. I have seen it from both ends, from living off salmon on the Yukon River to holding them up for people to take pictures.
My heritage does not give me the right to break the law. However, I applaud the women who tried to hold onto their cultural ways by harvesting salmon last year. My personal perspective is that the State of Alaska Fish and Game Department shouldn't fine Alaska natives for trying to hold onto our culture. Moreover, if the state thinks and feels that I should be fined, go for it. I will gladly pay the fine knowing that I stood up and raised the issue of subsistence to the public. Subsistence is a hot topic within my community. Many of us Alaska natives feel whether one is a member of our culture or not, people should respect our ways.
My actions were by personal choice and separate from subsistence issues. Please understand that what I did as a tour guide is very different from the subsistence lifestyle. I say this as an Alaskan Indian who is a tour guide.