200 Alaskans Gather to Demand Return of Traditional Hunting Rights
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/22/2012 -- Native Alaskans are fighting back in an effort to reclaim their indigenous rights. The 200-strong crowd that gathered in Anchorage’s city park this week came together to demand that native peoples be returned the rights to live off the land and hunt traditional game to feed themselves and their families without governmental restrictions.
Lee Stephan, tribal president of the native village of Eklutna, spoke at the rally in mid-October: “I’m here to fire you up! We as Native people, we got to do something.” Stephan pointed to indigenous people’s excellent record of maintaining fish populations and avoiding overfishing. He noted that salmon and other species have only come under threat as a result of the “white man’s” poor environmental policies.
Criticism of state government fishing policies have come to a head in recent months. Salmon fishing was reduced on the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers in 2012, but such restrictions were ignored by dozens of local fisherman. Those fishermen found themselves hit with fines, had their fishing gear confiscated, and in at least one case had their nets cut. This “fish in” was a deliberate protest against state restrictions and a forceful reminder that Native Alaskan rights advocates would not sit idle.
The fish in participants collectively received 33 written citations for violating state fishing laws and 21 nets and over 1,100 pounds of salmon were seized by government officials. The message was clear: natives are no different from other Alaskans and must abide by the same laws.
The gathering’s master of ceremonies, Princess Lucha, reminded the crowd what she believed was at stake: “When they cut our fishing net, that’s really our lifeline that they are cutting.” Lucha said that the protesters were not just fishing for themselves, but to provide food for their families and community. What hurts a single fisherman, she said, hurts the entire community.
About Roman Meydbray
Roman Meydbray (http://romanmeydbray.wordpress.com/about/) is a blog all about Roman, who is a fisher and farmer from Alaska. He grew up learning from his parents what it takes to harvest and raise animals and crops. Visit the website today to learn more about Roman Meydbray Alaska.
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