Gravina project an affront to Natives

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tribal representatives from Saxman, Metlakatla and Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) blasted U.S. Forest Service (USFS) plans to harvest about 38 million board feet of timber on Gravina Island. The bigger picture than the proposed logging on Gravina Island is the proposed $240 million bridge to Gravina Island via Pennock Island to get the products of logging to Ketchikan. This bridge will also further desecrate our Tribal graves on Pennock Island.

In my opinion, this is a master plan of a few opulent people in Ketchikan and a few state of Alaska officials like Gov. Frank Murkowski to get a bridge and logs off of Gravina Island at our taxpayer expense. This requires us taxpayers to build a $240 million dollar bridge to no-where an build new expensive roads. Not only that, the USFS will give up our trees for almost nothing. These few folks could care less about what we Natives think nor listen to what we have to say about the exploitation of our natural resources that rightfully belong to the Native people. How long as Native people (I am of the Aan Kadax Tseen Gunnax adi Clan Yei l hit Taan ta Kwaan) are we going to be pushed around like we don't exist? I am getting tired of it, aren't you? They are taking more of our subsistence rights and all our natural resources from us the impunity.

I want to thank Ms. Nora DeWitt of Saxman, Metlakatla and KIC for making a stand on logging Gravina Island. The USFS failed to adequately consult with tribal representatives, as required by a presidential executive order ... that is a good point. "We must step forward. We must speak loudly. We must call attention to our situation and show this situation up for what it truly is: a direct attack and desecration of our traditional areas where we hunt, fish and good-gather," says Ms. Nora DeWitt. What a great statement and I will back you up on this important issue for Native people in Ketchikan and surrounding areas in Southeast Alaska.

In closing, the enemy is not just the USFS. We need to look at who is really pushing the buttons? Gov. Frank Murkowski, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Congressman Don Young, Sen. Ted Stevens and your local Borough government too. There is a bigger picture. This is my own opinion.

Don Hoff, Jr.

Hixson, Tenn.

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