Customary and traditional use of Tlingit territory is reduced to the word "subsistence." Very convenient for those like Governor Murkowski and like-thinkers who strive to exploit every natural resource Alaska holds - as soon as possible. The bottom line is the only focus, money. Alaskans' existence and life ways be damned. We know who will get the prime jobs and who will get the dirty work.
The Souteast Alaska Conservation Council may not have attended any Alaska Native Brotherhood Grand Camp conventions visibly, but you can bet their talents were utilized when Bob Willard worked for ANB Camp 2 and Grand Camp on "subsistence." It takes accumulated strength to move the mountainous intent of exploitation.
SEACC has been involved in numerous battles to protect natural value, right beside us. They played a big part in Hoonah's lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (Hanlon vs. Barton) - subsistence protection under Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act Title 8 when rampant logging was occurring all around us. A then-Sen. Frank Murkowski thing, in the name of economics. SEACC helped get the unheard voice of Hoonah to Washington D.C., where our U.S. Senate heard firsthand our Tlingit existence and the important customary and traditional use of our natural resources.
Al McKinley, ANB Executive Committee member, brings the Berners Bay issue to simple focus. The area is Wooshkeetaan Clan territory with burial grounds that need to be protected. The salmon stream that coho salmon return to must be closely studied and protected. Yes, jobs are important. So are fishermen and fish eaters.
To those few ANB members who are slamming an organization that many consider a friend, I say: Do your homework if you want to talk "subsistence." It's more than a word and it is not about money.
I stand in respect of SEACC's efforts to protect the natural value of Berners Bay. To ANB Camp 70, who are you speaking for when you advocate standing behind Gov. Murkowski? Be very careful.
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