“Regulations Make Us Violate Our Way of Life”

From “The One Who Watches Over the Land.” Hat tip to Miles Joyner.

This spring, I’ll have the opportunity to visit communities in Southeast and learn about the issues they are facing when it comes to traditional and customary use (“subsistence”) management. I’m interested in learning about the common frustrations we are dealing with throughout the Tongass so please contact me if you want to share your experiences or have people you can network me to!

Here are the three common cultural values I’ve heard over and over again so far:

* Respect; respect for the land, respect for the clans that manage certain areas, respect for the resources that give themselves to us for nourishment
* Sharing; share the harvest with family and community; “if we do not share, the food sticks in our throats”
* No waste; “We do not take more than needed” unlike commercial and sports interests

Regulations target the wrong people when they are crafted without local input or when management decisions do not use traditional knowledge. Traditional and customary users take the least amount of the resources harvested, yet seem to be the most regulated. Given the “subsistence priority” in Alaska, it would seem as though there would be more acknowledgment of local community needs and respect for traditional cultural values. Traditional and customary users would have veto power over any regulatory decisions if “subsistence priority” were the case but we have seen time and time again that commercial and sports interests are catered to more than those who live harmoniously off the land.

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