Alaska editorial: The subsistence board's definition of rural is 'nuts'

Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006

This editorial appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

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It's crazy that anyone could imagine Saxman as nonrural, but the Federal Subsistence Board does. The theory is that Saxman is the same as Ketchikan. It isn't, of course, but that's not even the point - Alaska Natives and others in Saxman and Ketchikan alike subsistence fish and hunt, and are, in fact, "rural." Saying either place isn't rural is inaccurate, even though Ketchikan and Saxman have the words "city" in their names.

Keeping Ketchikan "nonrural" is wrong. But changing Saxman to "nonrural" is egregious.

And crazier still is the notion - from the same board - that, while Saxman (population 405; 25.6 percent unemployed; per capita income $15,642) is "nonrural," Sitka (population 8,947; 7.8 percent unemployed; per capita income $23,622) and Kodiak (population 6,088; 5 percent unemployed; per capita income $21,522) are "rural."

What claptrap.

Of course the good people of Kodiak and Sitka should have subsistence rights (as should the people of Ketchikan); but to claim they are somehow rural while Saxman is not defies logic on any level. Not only is the label not logical; it's not true.

The board needs to fix the designations. Ketchikan and Saxman are both rural, and should be accorded that status.

We applaud Saxman Tribal Council President Lee Wallace's immediate announcement that Saxman's nonrural designation - which will take effect in five years if it sticks - will be appealed.

It should be appealed. It's nuts.

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