Alaska Redistricting Board Meeting – Anchorage LIO

One could easily figure the Alaska Redistricting Board waiting for the recent SCOTUS decision on the Voting Rights Act to continue deliberating over new legislative districts.  Several groups and interested parties attempted to coerce the Board to continue working after the Alaska Supreme Court decided the previous districts were unconstitutional: the Alaska State Constitution.  One can only imagine the scope of new effects of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision on US Constitution law.

First note of partisan politics sees the chair of the Redistricting Board is also the chair of the Board of Fish, the Honorable Mr. John Torgerson, a former state judge.

10:07AM – Meeting called to order.

10:09AM – Mr. Michael White, attorney for the Board, states for the record Section 4 and Section 5 of VRA as ruled unconstitutional does have direct effect to the proceedings of the work of the Board.  The Board will work without consideration of Section 4 and 5 of VRA.

Dozens of proposals hang on the wall, and have been provided in smaller formats for the public.  Most proposals have Tanana, Alaska (the one place in the world I consider myself from) consolidated with the rest of the middle Yukon River villages, unlike the presently existing districts.  Ruby, Alaska and Tanana (adjacent to each other on the Yukon River) are the only two middle Yukon villages, primarily Koyukon Athabascan, set with the primarily Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan and Yup’ik Eskimo villages in Southwest Alaska.  Out of all the public gripes of the presently existing districts, I found this fact most upsetting.

10:30AM – Alaskans For Fair and Equitable Redistricting has finely parsed several different proposals.  Former Alaska Republican Party chair Mr. Randy Reudrich is serving as chair for AFFER and has testified to an impressive array of details for the AFFER Revised proposal.  Out of all the proposals hanging on the walls, AFFER probably has the most balanced proposals.  I’m guessing politics will significantly alter AFFER proposals if and when the Redistricting Board begins to adopt final proposals.

11:15AM – Calista Corporation, the regional corporation for the Yup’ik peoples in Southwest Alaska has proposed several maps.  Calista cites using ANCSA boundaries for considering their proposals.  Further analyzing the placement of the Koyukon Athabascan people and middle Yukon villages, the population of these villages are comparatively sparse, and keep being split up between one district and the next proposal to proposal.  They are either paired with Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan, Bering Straights, Northwest Arctic, and North Slope Arctic.  In some cases, three of these historic ethnic groups out of the four are set into one district.  Calista has cited difficulty in sorting this dilemma out.

1:00PM – The room has nearly cleared out now that the meeting has switched over to public testimony, mostly via teleconference.

There is a lot of experience that has gone into the many different proposals, with some participation spanning decades.  Many regions and sub-regions fight to have their constituents generally together, while leaving the rest of the state to work itself out.  It is a complicated process, with an almost unlimited amount of criteria that could add together making a legislative district.  The Board has a standard set of criteria giving definition to the process, with many disparate parties suggesting non-standard criteria as basis for proposals.  From what I hear, it seems there is plenty of awareness and participation from the Alaska Native peoples from all regions around the state.  The majority non-Native population of the state may force some aspects of the proposal that is in the end unfriendly to the Alaska Native vote, but the Alaska Native peoples understand the implications of the recent SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision and will more than likely have the voice of the Alaska Native voice heard leading up to and during the final decision making process of the redistricting work.

Signing off 1:18PM.

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On the Separation of IRA Tribal Government and Alaska Native Corporation

Title 43 United States Code, Section 1626(a) Continuing availability of otherwise available governmental programs

The payments and grants authorized under this chapter constitute compensation for the extinguishment of claims to the land, and shall not be deemed to substitute for any governmental programs otherwise available to the Native people of Alaska as citizens of the United States and the State of Alaska.

Title 43 United States Code, Section 1626(d) Federal Indian programs

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, Alaska Natives shall remain eligible for all Federal Indian programs on the same basis as other Native Americans.


Notice the absence of any explicit term referring to IRA tribal government in Alaska, or any term referring to the sovereignty of IRA tribal governments in Alaska (section a only refers to Alaska Natives as citizens of Alaska or the U.S.).  The broad language perhaps allows for the non-profit arms of the corporations to contract and compact with the federal agencies under the guise of IRA tribal governments.  The non-profit arms of the corporations have since been expedited into “tribal consortiums”.  The legal definition of tribal consortium follows below:

Title 25 United States Code, Section 458aaa (5) Inter-tribal consortium

The term “inter-tribal consortium” means a coalition of two or more separate Indian tribes that join together for the purpose of participating in self-governance, including tribal organizations.

The confusion becomes worse since several non-profit tribal consortiums participate fully in the Alaska Federation of Natives, the organization made of and concerning mainly the Alaska Native Corporations.

It is difficult to firmly delineate IRA tribal governments and Alaska Native Corporations, especially considering tribal consortiums serving as non-profit human services organizations began pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which gave birth to Alaska Native Corporations.  Does this focus onto ANCSA by way of legal language take away human capital from IRA tribal governments in Alaska?

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“Can International Law Support Changes to Federal Indian Law?” 1PM-530PM 19 April 2013

1:03PM: Professor S. James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is introduced by Bob Clinton, professor of law, Indian Legal Program Sandra Day O’Connor at ASU.

1:08PM: Professor Anaya speaks to the conference as Keynote.

“There are several [U.S. domestic] doctrinal devices that limit implementation from the courts.”

Concepts within UNDRIP are derived and supported by domestic obligations, e.g. self-determination, consultation, etc.

“[UNDRIP] can be seen to constitute customary international law.”

“I think we need to take that as a given and move forward…I think that question has already been settled.”

1:28PM:  “How can the declaration be implemented?  How can the declaration, abstract concepts, be implemented in reality?”

Visited 13 countries in role as UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the U.S.  Cites U.S. report as given to the UN Human Rights Council in the fall of 2012.

“Perhaps the [domestic] political will isn’t there, but it can be.”

1:41PM:  “I met with 12-15 executives of federal agencies [during U.S. mission], and I was surprised about the level of ignorance of the declaration.”

“There needs to be an executive campaign for recognition of the declaration…and to raise awareness.”

1:44PM:  Only Senator Inouye was present during Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on UNDRIP in summer 2012.  “I think there needs to be another hearing, where congressmen are confronted with problems of the declaration.”

“I think Congress needs to pass a resolution…to cement the declaration as a centerpiece in its future deliberations.”

1:48PM:  Speaking of the federal Judiciary.

“The courts should now discard such colonial era doctrines, and adopt the human rights doctrines which the United States has now adopted…it should now look to international law for the implementation of the declaration.”

“It is high time to bring the law in line with contemporary human rights law.”

1:51PM: The state governors as well as the legislators take stock of the declaration.

The indigenous peoples themselves must take responsibility to educate and to utilize the rights enjoyed.

“I encourage everyone in the room to be optimists.”

1:52PM: Questions posed from audience.

1:59PM: “Can the declaration be used by the traditional leadership to be used to protect themselves from the current tribal government?” – Wide laughter from the audience.

2:01PM: Off the sound-system question, stopping Professor Anaya away from the mic, from the Hopi poet Simon J. Ortiz, concerning the sale of sacred Hopi items in France.

The Special Rapporteur can only monitor issues, and cannot attempt to influence domestic legal instruments and functions.

The Special Rapporteur can receive petitions, which be can used to monitor domestic situations.

2:05PM: Another off the sound-system question, petitioning the Special Rapporteur to address a Native American freedom of religion issue.

2:08PM: New panel moderated by Mr. G. William Rice, joined by Leonard Gorman, Chief J. Wilton Littlechild, Philip S. Deloria, and Rebecca Tsosie.

2:12PM: Leonard Gorman speaks to the conference.

Consulted with the Department of Agriculture on the subject of sacred places or sacred sites to the Navajo Nation, to be managed differently from other public lands, over the span of several years.

Petitioned the State of Arizona over redistricting issues and the federal Voting Rights Act, and how international laws and norms can assist the Navajo Nation.

Working with the Department of State, Department of Justice on an MOU for implementation of UNDRIP within the Navajo Nation.

2:28PM: Chief J. Wilton Littlechild of the Canadian Ermineskin Cree Nation speaks to the conference.  Chief Littlechild served in the Canadian Parliament previously.

Summarized several instances where UNDRIP has been implemented domestically in Canada.

Brought forth to the conference: House of Commons of Canada 2012 Bill Proposal C-469 – “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

2:40PM:  “Treaty rights are human rights.”

2:50PM: Philip S. Deloria speaks to the conference.

“Begging the question.”  Indigenous peoples very much beg the question of the truth of Federal Indian law.

Many concepts making up the declaration are not uniform concepts.

3:01PM: “International law and domestic implementation is not a guarantee.  We have to be careful.”

3:05PM: A lot of humor, lifting the serious atmosphere.

3:10PM: Legally defending human rights cannot be abused if we are to advance UNDRIP.

3:14PM:  Rebecca Tsosie speaks to the conference.

3:23PM: “The U.S. Constitution does not include the human rights we are talking about today,” – based on research of racial discrimination in the past during the formation of the U.S.

3:30PM: Present wave of colonization: “Colonization of Consciousness – issues of identity, self-determination, autonomy, spiritual rights – things that barely anyone can understand.”

3:51PM: After a 20 minute break, Professor Tsosie moderates a panel including Dion Killsback, Senior Counselor to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and Norther Cheyenne of Montana, Professor Robert Miller, and Professor G. William Rice, and Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.

3:56PM: Dion Killsback speaks to the conference.

“As the only ‘Fed’ in the room, my remarks reflect the views of the Department of Interior.” – Wide laughter from the audience.

Summarizes specific instances of favorable developments in Indian Country handled in part or in whole by Interior.

4:15PM: MOUs are centerpieces for administrating laws, policies, and regulations on a government-to-government relationship with tribal governments.

4:17PM: Professor Robert Miller, of the Lewis & Clark Law School, speaks to the conference.

Analyzes the consent and consultation principles of UNDRIP.  Historically consent used in treaty and statutory language.  Consultation utilized during self-determination era.

4:20PM: “Tribes have very few substantive rights when it comes to consultations.”

“There is a higher responsibility when it comes to consultation with tribal governments, with a fiduciary responsibility.”

4:31PM: “35 different [federal] agencies have gotten serious about consultation.”

Senior agency officials should be negotiating directly with tribes during consultations.

4:37PM: “Article 19 the primary reason the four countries voted no.” – Free, Prior, and Informed Consent principle.

4:39PM: Professor Bill Rice speaks to the conference.

4:43PM: The most important participants of implementing UNDRIP are the tribal governments and peoples themselves.  The federal government is going to listen to tribal governments and peoples when it does come to implementation.

“If we don’t understand the UNDRIP, if we don’t make the UNDRIP a priority and a way of life and a way of doing things, if we don’t take measures to implement UNDRIP, it won’t ever be implemented.”

4:51PM: “It’s time for another comprehensive review of Federal Indian law.”

4:56PM: Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee speaks to the conference, from a perspective as a member of a non-recognized Indian tribe in Louisiana.

UNDRIP provides opportunities for non-recognized tribal groups to petition governing entities for recognition.

5:06PM: An interesting situation with the BP Oil Spill: Since Professor Ferguson-Bohnee’s tribe is not a recognized tribe, the federal agencies involved with administrating the clean-up and reparations has eventually left out her tribe in the process.  They are however continuing to petition the governing entities to continue involvement after initially consulting with the non-recognized tribe.

5:12PM: Professor Tsosie invites questions from the audience.

Question about a Pueblo suit against the US for Mr. Killsback.

Question from Alan Parker addressed to Mr. Killsback about a statement from Jodi Gillette, Special Assistant to the President on Native American Affairs, that the President would attend a future World Council on Indigenous Peoples gathering.

Follow-up question about the Self-Determination principle of UNDRIP, and the U.S. Self-Determination Act Public Law 93-638.

Question to Professor Ferguson-Bohnee about descendants who have parents as members of federally recognized tribes, but who are not officially registered on membership rolls.  [This is very common in Alaska, with confusion between tribal governments and Alaska Native Corporations].

Professor Wiessner from this morning further addressed the question of descendants who are not registered on membership rolls.

5:29PM: Professor Bill Rice will close out the conference with an impromptu round of last thoughts from panel participants.

5:32PM: The last thoughts are chaotic and are generally not-followable!  I am signing out.

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“Can International Law Support Changes to Federal Indian Policy?” 8AM-12PM, 19 April 2013

8:45AM: I have travelled to Phoenix, Arizona, to attend this conference put on by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  The planning spans two years and is most unconventional.  I will summarize bits of information as the conference flows along. – archived web-feed. – materials and documents.

8:53AM: Dr. Julian Burger, based in London is first up to speak to the conference, which is also streamed online, with many people from around the world watching.

In 1992-1993 Indigenous Peoples had “broken through” the United Nations bureaucracy and were able to make contributions and influence the functions of the many apparatus agencies, after 30 or so years of petitioning the center of bureaucracy in Geneva.

The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples experienced tough negotiations going through the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, with many governments wholly opposing the draft.

There are many people who are outside Indigenous populations who are interested in the content of the declaration.

The concept of “self-determination” seems to be the centerpiece strategy utilized by many Indigenous groups around the world.  The concept could be of global use, not to just Indigenous populations.

9:22AM: Panel moderated by Professor Leo Killsback (Native American Studies at ASU) – ‘UNDRIP: A brief history’.

9:27AM: Kenneth Deer, Secretary of Six Nations, of the community of Kahnawake is first up to speak.

The biggest challenge was delineating the rights of Minorities and the rights of Indigenous Peoples while petitioning the UN WGIP.

Article Three – the Right to Self-Determination was the last article passed in the Draft, and was the most contentious.

The member states of the UN are against the term “peoples” – hence the agencies avoid the use of the term: Working Group on Indigenous Populations, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Decade of Indigenous People.  “Peoples” implies the right to self-determination.

There is a big difference between Geneva and New York.  Geneva is more academic, in New York the atmosphere is political.

9:52AM: Andrea Carmen of the Yaqui Nation next up to speak, also Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council.

1996 UN Inter-Sessional Working Group on the UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the first instance and standard established for the complete involvement of Indigenous Peoples within the UN apparatus agencies.

The Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most important concept of UNDRIP.  As differentiated by individual human rights.

In many countries in the world the right to lands are not given to Indigenous Peoples.

Giving priority to the right of consent, over the right of consultation.

10:09AM: Alan Parker last to speak for the panel, citizen of the Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy, Montana.

Participant in an International Treaty Agreement – the United League of Indigenous Nations Treaty Agreement of 2007.  Involves Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Rim, and of the four member-states that voted against UNDRIP in 2007.

Representatives at the table of the ULINTA were empowered by their own peoples to negotiate the treaty.

10:19AM: Questions from the attendees moderated by Leo Killsback.

Legally-binding UNDRIP entails a right-to-sue provision.  Member-states of the UN would fight to protect the sovereign immunity and would not allow for UNDRIP to be legally-binding.

NCAI is petitioning the White House for a study on the implementation UNDRIP.

10:48AM: After 15 minute break, a panel moderated by Mr. Aaron Fellmeth, and made up of Professor Siegfried Wiessner, and Dr. Joshua Cooper Director of the Hawai’i Institute of Human Rights, and Walter Echo-Hawk, tribal judge and legal advocate, author of “In the Courts of the Conqueror” (2012).

10:55AM: Professor Wiessner speaks to the conference.

Chair of the International Law Association Sofia Conference (2012) – Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Professor Wiessner and Professor Lorie Graham the only participants from the US amongst others from around the world.

75th Conference of the International Law Association passed Resolution No. 5/2012 – Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

11:17AM: Dr. Joshua Cooper speaks to the conference.

Grassroots activist for UNDRIP implementation and wider recognition in the UN system.

11:33AM: Walter Echo-Hawk speaks to the conference.

Federal Indian Law is the old framework.  The new framework is Human Rights.  “We have advanced this as far as we can in this current framework…we need to look to a new framework.  The new lifeline is this Human Rights framework.”

There are many gaps between Federal Indian law and UNDRIP.  If the gaps can be filled, Federal Indian law would be reversed, and would reaffirm the body of law surrounding Federal Indian law.

No national plan in the US for implementation.

“We have to begin a national discourse, a public conversation.  It is up to us to educate ourselves and be prepared to do that.”

11:54AM: Questions moderated by Mr. Aaron Fellmeth.

Question for Dr. Cooper concerning the history and the implementation of UNDRIP in Hawai’i.

Question taken by Walter Echo-Hawk on strategies for implementation.

12:04PM: Recessed for lunch.

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“The Pacific Salmon Fisheries: A Study of Irrational Conservation”

Pacific salmon management issues from 1969 ringing true over 40 years later:

“The stakes in salmon conservation are worthy of careful thought.  Even at the depleted levels of the 1960’s, the annual gross value of the Pacific salmon catch to American and Canadian fisherman has averaged over $60 million.  The vicious and continuous political infighting that has plagued the conservation authorities from Alaska to the Columbia River is eloquent testimony to the participants’ awareness of economic considerations in fishery management.  Yet there is little evidence that the development of scientific research-oriented regulation was accompanied by any substantive awareness of the crucial importance of economic factors.

“Our central theme is that rational fishery management must evolve from the objective of maximizing the net economic yield of the resource.  One reason for this approach is that the traditional definition of regulatory objectives in purely physical terms has left conservation authorities vulnerable to political pressures by denying them a vital basis for choice.  The vulnerability comes about in the following way: a fishery shows evidence of ‘over-fishing,’ i.e., aggregate yields may fall, the amplitude of annual oscillations in yield may increase, 0r–more probably–both phenomena are observed.  At the same time, generally in response to an improvement in earnings as a result of a positive income elasticity of demand, fishing effort is increased.  In order to protect the resource, the administrative body created to deal with the problem of ‘over-fishing’ must reduce fishing mortality.  Since the fishery is an open access resource, it is impossible under current conditions to reduce effort by restricting the inputs.  The regulators cannot stop more people using more equipment from going fishing.  In this situation, the obvious alternative is to reduce progressively the efficiency of the individual inputs and thereby reduce the pressure exerted on the resource by a growing number of fishing units.  The resulting drift into greater and greater inefficiency in the use of human and capital resources erodes both control and compliance; and the concomitant deterioration of capital equipment leaves the industry increasingly vulnerable to competition, both foreign and domestic.  At the same time, the basic irrationality of legislated inefficiency tends to cause widespread discouragement and cynicism in the industry.  Failure to develop regulations based on an economic calculus lead to the ad hoc, ‘hole-plugging’ hodgepodge of regulations now characteristic of many fisheries.  It is important to realize that the need for regulation of open access fisheries arises from economic reactions of profit-seeking units.  If this fact is realized, a simple, consistent, and readily enforceable program can be developed.

“The setting for any management of salmon resources is both physical and institutional.  On one side is a set of complex biological problems: How is it possible to manage the population dynamics of an organism that lives in an environment over which the biologist has little control in order to approximate a chosen level of physical yield from the resource?  On the other side, the question arises: How can this be accomplished within the constraints of a given set of legal and social institutions, which lead, in the absence of intervention, to gross inefficiency and waste in the use of both human and physical capital?  Clearly, any meaningful solution for the problems of a commercial fishery must account for both these facets of its structure.  From the standpoint of time and money, the research required to define and quantify the essential physical relations that determine available yield is far more demanding than the economic analysis.  Yet both are essential to any conservation program that could be considered a rational effort to increase the contribution of the resource to human welfare.  Productive fish stocks are a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for optimal use of those stocks.”

Crutchfield, James A., Giulio Pontecorvo.  The Pacific Salmon Fisheries: A Study in Irrational Conservation.  Pages 6-8.  The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore: 1969.

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Alaska Constitutional Convention (1955-56) and Alaska Native Rights

As deliberated on the afternoon of January 18, 1956, considering Natural Resources and Land Management:

“President Egan: …Are there amendments to Section 10?  Mr. Marston.

Marston: Mr. President, Delegates, this is the reason I came to this Convention.  I waited two months to get here and I hope you will keep your minds and hearts open for a few minutes.

President Egan: Mr. Marston, do you have an amendment to offer?

Marston: It is being passed out.  I have it in there.

President Egan: Perhaps if the Chief Clerk read the amendment first – – would the Chief Clerk read the proposed amendment?

Chief Clerk: ‘Insert the following as Section 12 and renumber the succeeding sections in sequence: ‘The legislature shall provide for translating the traditional rights of Alaskan of Indian, Aleut or Eskimo ancestry to the use of land, fishing, hunting and trapping areas into approximately equivalent homestead or other property rights.  Provision shall be made for just compensation for the impairment or extinction of such rights resulting from grants of land or timber or mining rights in the State public domain.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to be in lieu of or prejudicial to any aboriginal rights or claims now pending or later to be filed.’

President Egan: Are there amendments to new Section 10 or the new Section 11?  If not, Mr. Marston, do you move the adoption of your proposed amendment?

Marston: I move the adoption of this proposed amendment.

President Egan: Mr. Marston moves the adoption of this amendment.  Mrs. Sweeney.

Mrs. Sweeney: Mr. President, I am wondering if this has been cleared through the committee?

Marston: I went to the Committee on two occasions and they are in sympathy with what this amendment calls for, but they took refuge behind HR 2535, and the evidence from the legal stand will be presented here showing that that does not necessarily hold.

President Egan: Is there a second to Mr. Marston’s motion?

Londborg: I second the motion.

President Egan: Mr. Londborg seconds the motion.  Mr. Marston, you have the floor.

Marston.  Delegate Peratrovich has talked about this, and the delegate I talked to during lunch time says this has come up at every Indian or Native convention he has attended.  It comes up because it is never settled and every morning here we pray to the God above to guide us and direct us and I wish that His ambassador, Jesus, were here this afternoon and would show you the way to vote on this question.  Here is a letter addressed through me to this Convention from an Eskimo living up on the Bering Sea, and there are many more letters here, but this is a typical letter addressed to the Alaska Constitutional Convention at the University of Alaska so it is addressed to you through me.  In the second paragraph: ‘I have something to bring up myself in connection with our land problems, mostly of our fishing camps and our homes.  Around here in Unalakleet, and also around outlying villages, we have fishing camps, from way back without anything to show in papers, claims or clear titles – – only fish racks, tent frames and cache stands to show, and there are particular places for fishing and camping, whether they are in the beach or on the rivers, they are in the main places we are to catch our winter needs each year.  But what I have gone through I can say this much – – it is pretty hard winter when some outfit gets into his amp and uses it for nothing – – I have not fished at my camp site for three seasons because some outfit is working in it.  I would suggest strongly we need to have our fishing camps rights, and settle it.  Settle it to have any outfit or any organization as a group to pay for using any camp site instead of doing anything as they please with any camp site.  This part of Alaska is still hard living.  It is not developed yet, no roads built yet to go any place where want to go or go near our trap lines.  We still use dogs to go places in winter.  We need to have our seasonal living livelihood to get by each year until something is done in this part of the country.  Also, our homes here in Unalakleet, and in other villages, too, we don’t own lots for our homes.  We have been under reservation for too long.  Most of us young people begin to realize that Reservations are just getting us behind in many ways of living as an average American citizen.  We begin to realize that we have been put aside as Natives too long.  We young people would like to see our children grow up as any average American living citizen, living with equal rights as white men.  We are just as good a human as anybody from black to white.  Here’s wishing you lots of luck, your friend, George Lockwood, Unalakleet, Alaska.’ This is the plea that has been coming across the desk of white man ever since he came to this country.  It has not been heeded, it has been pushed aside just like now it is pushed aside because of HR 2535.  I wish that this delegation would make this document live by putting heart and soul and justice and taking care of the needs of a thing present in our midst.  This man is appealing to you for his little livelihood; for what he already owns, these titles were good.  All this bill asks for is that you give clear title to the home ground where he lives and to his camp site.  Those titles were good in the Native land when the Natives lived here, but the oncoming civilization which is crossing over an older civilization has made inoperative those titles that were once good and I maintain it is up to us to make good those titles.  These people, now in our preamble – – we speak of the pioneers of Alaska.  Well, they are great.  You see a man with boots on, a packsack, a pick and shovel, and a pan.  We speak much in our Convention here about founding fathers – – great men they were, but greater men and many more of them lived here long before the founding father or before the prospectors hit Alaska, and there are 30,000 of those people living here now in Alaska, and we have passed them by, as George Lockwood says, too long.  These great people have done great things for us.  We would not be here now if these people hadn’t come here and had taken up this land and showed us the way.  What to the Indians, the Natives give us?  They gave us corn which has fed millions of people and is feeing millions now and making tens of thousands wealthy by growing corn, one of civilization’s greatest blessings, I think.  It gave us wheat; the Indians gave us corn.  Our new civilization is running over the old civilization.  It is a great civilization coming here.  After the war a new group are coming – – not to get rich and get out – – but they are coming to raise families and make their homes in Alaska.  They want to do right by the people that are here, but this Convention can do something about it, can correct an evil.  Many people, Eskimos, Indians, and Aleuts have born, lived, and died waiting for the blessing of the great ‘white father’ to settle them under the aboriginal rights and they have not been treated right.  They have missed their blessing, and the time has come when the great ‘white father’ to settle down on these people what he has promised them.  ‘A pal’s last need is a thing to heed; a promise made is a debt unpaid.’ George Lockwood is my pal and your pal, and he is pleading to you now; and there are many George Lockwoods over the Arctic and in many places asking you to come and help them out.  It is not their fault – – they don’t want anything different than anybody else.  They want to be just like you and me – – equal.  We have destroyed their title by our new civilization.  The government has promised them great blessings.  Generations have come and lived and died and the blessing has not settled upon us.  We can make this document live if we will just make clear the title and here is all I want you to do under this amendment.  Mr. Londborg, will you show them this location here George Lockwood?  I can show it to you.  Here is all it does.  (Mr. Marston took the map up to front of room.)  This is all that amendment asks for.  George Lockwood lives at Unalakleet, right here.  He lives right there (pointing to map) on a little piece of ground and he wants title to it.  He has a fishing camp up here.  He would like to have title to that five acres.  There is where the military is now occupying camp for three years, and pushed him aside.  The cats have destroyed his blueberries, the beach where his kiddies played – – they can’t play there anymore, and for three years he has been dispossessed of that position by the military who are building a radar station up here.  If he had title to that ground, as you and I would have, he would have no complaints, so in the name of decency and honor and common ordinary right, I ask this Convention to adopt this amendment and let George have his ground saved for him and a little camp site where he makes his living by fishing and hunting.  That is all this amendment does.  We can make this Constitution with heart and soul and justice in it if we just do that little thing and not forever pass by these people that are pleading to us.  We have problems here; let’s recognize them.  I believe this Constitution has the honor and the justice and the will and the free-wheeling among them to do this job which the United States government has been unable to do.  Aboriginal rights have nothing to do with it.  It merely clears title for his home site and for [him] campsite and that is all it does.  I present it the best I can.  I have a very humble way of presenting it, but I hope you realize the moment of greatness of this little request by George Lockwood.  There are many more letters here if you want to read them; but this letter tells you the story.  I have told you the story and it is up to you.  Let your conscience be your guide.”

As spoken by Colonel Marvin L. “Muktuk” Marston, delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention in Fairbanks, Alaska 1955-56.  Marston’s Native title amendment was not adopted by the Convention, which then deferred to the federal government.

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State of Alaska and Yukon River Subsistence Fisheries

Much has been made in news of late about the 2012 Yukon and Kuskokwim subsistence fisheries.  The atmosphere is antagonistic between Alaska Native fisherman and ADF&G fisheries managers.  Many parties tell of the federal responsibility to protect Alaska Native subsistence practices, while the state of Alaska insists on managing all aspects of wildlife.  Perhaps several facts are finally overlooked when negative exchanges take place between the differing parties: that (1) Alaska Native fisherman are citizens of the state of Alaska, and (2) the administration of the state of Alaska is responsible to all citizens of the state of Alaska.  Whether Alaska Native fisherman identify as fisherman or as tribally enrolled members of federally recognized tribal governments, all participatory processes for the management of riverine fisheries are open to all individuals involved.  The state of Alaska may have difficulties officially recognizing the political and social sovereignty of tribal governments in Alaska, however individual Alaska Native fisherman can and do participate in the management processes under ADF&G.  It is my impression rather than waiting on ambivalent federal fish and game managers to step into the cross-fire, individual Alaska Native fisherman can very well  begin participating through several channels how they think ADF&G should manage Yukon River subsistence fisheries.

The direct channel into ADF&G subsistence fisheries management is through the Community Subsistence Information System, managed by the Subsistence Fishing Division.  The CSIS is new, and is open to public comment on how the system shall be structured in the future to gather and collect subsistence fisheries information, which would then be used for the management of subsistence fisheries.

The federally recognized tribal governments in Alaska can also consult with the ADF&G on fisheries policies through the ADF&G department policy on government to government relations between the state of Alaska and federally recognized tribal governments.  Several restrictions apply to tribal consultation, according to the document, such as:

“Exclusions. The following actions are exempt from this policy: department participation in investigations relating to actual or suspected violations of state law, and initiation of the civil or criminal justice process; adjudicatory and rule-making decisions of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission; emergency order (EO) announcements and management actions; preseason management strategies, outlooks, or forecasts.”


“Exclusions. The following actions are exempt from this policy: department participation in investigations relating to actual or suspected violations of state law, and initiation of the civil or criminal justice process; adjudicatory and rule-making decisions of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission; emergency order (EO) announcements and management actions; preseason management strategies, outlooks, or forecasts.”

The ADF&G consultation policy was drafted in 2002 and it is unknown how often the policy has been utilized by federally recognized tribal governments in Alaska.  The policy is apparently in place and any federally recognized tribal government can take the opportunity to consult with ADF&G, and very certainly question why the above restrictions are in place and suggest that no restrictions be in place at all for tribal consultations in the future.

It has been said in many places that the state of Alaska does not favor the practices of Alaska Native hunting and fishing, nevertheless the state of Alaska is responsible to all citizens of the state of Alaska whether they live in the cities or in the villages, and if Alaska Native fisherman participate in the management of subsistence fisheries and suggest management practices as one or many see fit, the ADF&G can only acquiesce.

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Filed under Author: alaskaindigenous

Alaska Subsistence Management Chronology 2008

Find a subsistence management chronology under the Publications page within the blog:

The chronology begins with the establishment of the Territory of Alaska in 1867, and ends in 2008.

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Filed under Author: alaskaindigenous