This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Logo Home Page About ANKN Publications Academic Programs Curriculum Resources Calendar of Events Announcements Site Index This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide
 

Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
Social/Cultural Task Force at

Ft. Yukon, Alaska
June 9, 1993

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
JOINT FEDERAL-STATE COMMISSION
ON
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS AFFECTING ALASKA NATIVES
4000 Old Seward Highway, Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99503

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Witness List | PDF Version

 

MR. EATON: Thank you very much. Elise Wolfe.

TESTIMONY OF ELISE WOLFE

MS. WOLFE: My name's Elise Wolfe, and I'm going to make this really brief, because I think there's people in the village that have things to say that are -- might be more important than what Iím going to say.

And I'm a 25-year Alaska resident. I've lived in the state a long time, I've spent a lot of time in the villages. And there's two things that I think that I would like to see the Native -- this Commission do. Because the commissions have come and gone a long time in this state. And we have a lot of leftover garbage like ANCSA that have left their little paths of destruction. And I know that you're Bush appointees, and I'm not really sure -- I'm not really -- Iím really not very trustworthy about where the Commission's going to go with this documentation.

So I have some suggestions and I'm going to be pretty blunt, or brief about them. One is that I think that you need to take your testimony in a little different way; for example, maybe taking all the documentation of the (indiscernible) that we're doing personally, we could make that available to you as testimony for your Commission. But you're not going to get -- not everybody's going to come in this courtroom and sit in this chair. So that's one thing I would suggest. And I think we have a lot of testimonies, if you were to look into that material.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: (Indiscernible)

MS. WOLFE: Okay. Good. So, you know, (indiscernible) village (indiscernible) was a good indication of how that was done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Off record.

(Tape changed - Tape 3, Side 1)

MS. WOLFE: And I'll talk about being a white person in Alaska who's dated white men. Because I think the white people have a fundamental fear of Indians. And I've experienced that with men that I've dated, with people I've interacted with in Anchorage and the cities. And so what you get is this polarization; well, we can't give the Indians their local control, we have to build roads, we have to do this. And it's kind of this paternal, what I call paternal caretaking role, and I think that really needs to change. And in the states, you know, that -- there was a lot of discrepancy over that change, and we got the IRA and the General Allotment Act, and things that have not turned out very well.

So -- but I think that that is one thing that I think the commission should start to really take seriously, is to look at local control. And, you know, there's a continuum of the radical sovereignty act of this and then those who don't want any -- that are too afraid to take that control themselves. But somewhere in there, there's a middle ground, and maybe even more to the left of a middle ground, of local control. And that's already been talked about a little bit with I think what Pat was saying about economic development.

As far as subsistence is concerned, I think that Native Alaskans need to be given priority in the state, absolutely. The State of Alaska, when it decided that "rural Alaskans" was to be the terminology to represent both Natives and white people was a big mistake. Because what you have now is you have people that abuse the land. And all you hear about in Anchorage is, oh, the Indians shoot too many walrus, or the Indians shoot too many moose, or the Indians do this, or the Indians do that. And I will tell you personally that I have dated men who have gone out and hunted wolves, fly-over shooting, have gone out and hunted moose off season.

I was driving down the Alaska Highway from Cantwell (indiscernible) and this guy was running down the road with a gun, loaded. I said, what are you doing? Well, he was looking for something to shoot. I don't think he cared what it was he was going to shoot. All right, and this guy wasn't even from the state.

But our game wardens up here are so interested in busting Indians who are trying to get some fish or trying to get a moose that they ignore the abuse of people from outside and the people that -- the white people in this -- and I say white people to represent a vast majority of other cultures, okay, but non-Natives. And I think that really needs to be taken seriously.

One moose a year is not enough. Fifteen fish for Eeyak (ph.) Indians in Cordova is not subsistence. That's a death sentence. And it's genocide. And we need to start looking at what the state and the federal government is doing about the genocidal policies that have continued for too long. And subsistence is the first thing we can do, is by giving preference to Alaska Natives.

All right. So I've said that. That includes roads. The road, the illegal road that Hickel was putting through to Cordova; what did we do about that? I mean, nothing. He got -- he didn't get even get fined for not even having the approvals that he needed to, the permits he needed to, for clearing that old train road into Cordova last summer.

We got six million dollars of the Exxon Valdez funding going into a road to Nelson Bay down in Cordova. That's going to open 90,000 acres of clear cutting. It's also going to open up mining and things like this. That's not helping the Indians in Cordova. It's going to be helping a few board members. It's going to be helping a few white people. But I think we really need to look at roads. I don't think Alaska needs any more roads. Because we get people getting shot in Manley, we gee people from Seattle running down the highway with loaded shotguns. I mean, that's what we get.

So I think subsistence, again, all this thing with the roads and stuff, is the Native Alaskans need to be given preference, I think we need to go back on that. And we need to say, okay, you got local control; set up your own.

The Gwich'in (ph.) have been doing really good on setting up their own regulations. I think there was probably regulations before we came along and started telling people what to do around here. So perhaps those can be supported, you know, and allowed to flourish. That's a local control. That's the other thing that I wanted to talk about, was local control, and economic local control.

The million-dollar cannery down in Cordova could be turned into a -- into a fishery processing plant for the Eeyak Indians or the Indians in the area as a communal thing. I think there's definitely economic alternatives similar to those that have been used in third world development countries that could be implemented here by people within their own local communities.

And that's about I think that's all I needed to say today, and give the floor over to other people. And I just wanted to say that as a white person who's lived here for a long time, I Think that we really need to get to a place where we are supporting and providing support, whether it's financial or personal or whatever, to communities in order to kind of take back some of the damage that's been done. Because I think there's a lot of work to be done and I think we can get answers to those solutions from the people in those communities. And the movement of cultural presentation is an indicator that there's a lot of good ideas out there. And you're obviously searching out some of those good ideas, and I'm glad to see that happen. And I'm hoping that the Clinton administration is able to do something.

But I did want to say that I'm a white person who doesn't think that rural Alaskans should have equal opportunity as far as shooting the animals or subsisting. Because white people don't subsist. They fundamentally do not subsist. When you work on the Slope or have a job in Anchorage, and you fly out and live six months and shoot whatever you want, (indiscernible), you're not subsisting.

Thank you.

MR. EATON: Questions.

MS. WOLFE: Questions.

FATHER ELLIOTT: No, except a comment, and that is, I think I read in the Anchorage paper that the road to Cordova has been restarted.

MS. WOLFE: Yeah. Yeah, it's a real problem.

FATHER ELLIOTT: But -- well, one question. You did mention that a road would open up mining and forestry. And then you said, but that would not help the Native people. Why would that not help? I know that one corporation feels that if there were to be a gas line put in, that they would be hiring Native people. Don't you feel that Native people would also be hired for the mining and the forestry?

MS. WOLFE: I believe that if we're going to preserve culture in Alaska, economic jobs -- jobs, white man jobs, are only half of the solution. Okay. So if you eliminate or destroy the ecosystem and make subsistence fundamentally impossible, then you're not going to help anybody. No, I don't believe that.

And I also -- if you look at -- the corporation in Cordova is a unique deal in the state. It's the largest village corporation, it's 327 people. It's also in a conglomeration of several different tribes, which was a mistake. There's 50 Eeyak left. The 50 Eeyak whose lands will be the ancestral lands, including burial grounds, village sites, and so on, that will get destroyed for this forestry, do not think that they'll benefit. And, you know, it would be a good idea for you to talk to Dune Langert (ph.) or Marie Smith Jones (ph.) who's the chief of that culture, of that tribe, because that's a real serious problem in Cordova. And it -- but it's an indicator, it's kind of like that indicator species. They will -- the Eeyak will be the first language to go extinct in this state. There's one Native language, there's one Native speaker left. By the year 2050, it's been estimated all the Native languages in Alaska will be extinct Michael Crouse (ph.), University of Alaska Fairbanks.

So you have an indicator corporation who is basically going under, they're fighting bankruptcy right now. They've had to go through Chapter 11. And they are -- they got rid of their CEO and are barely staying alive. You have to look at why that corporation is barely staying alive. And, you know, that's something that, you know, you could look into independently instead of me taking up time here. I've written an article on, it was published in the Earth Island Institute Journal this spring, which I could give you a copy of, explains the whole thing. And they will be having a gathering in this July down there. So you might want to look them up. But what you have is you have a few people, board members. The shareholders, the Eeyak Corporation, have not -- did not get a dividend fund last year. So they clear cut 12,000 acres last year of ancestral lands, nobody got a dividend check. Now, is that a benefit? The year before that, the dividend check was $28. The year before that, it was about $50. But that's it, over the last three years it's gone down. They do not project a dividend check for the next year.

And I think, you know, if you look at who's getting the jobs, you know, you got, yeah, a few Natives get employed. But who runs the corporations? Bob Stewart (ph.), who runs the White Stone Logging, is making the money; not the Eeyak. There's a couple of people working logging jobs. But they would rather be doing something else. They'd rather be fishing. But they can't, get a fishing permit, because they're $150,000 apiece.

Why isn't -- why is -- why are Natives, why do they have their fishing (indiscernible)? Why do people from Seattle who can work a $50,000-a-year job come up, get a -- buy a fishing permit, and they get all the fish; go back and live in Seattle, they don't even live up here? Why is that okay? Something's wrong with that. Natives should be out there fishing, whether it's commercial or riot. They've always commercial fished.

It was a white man who said, this is commercial fishing and this is barter and trade. This is subsistence, this is commercial fishing. You're commercial fishing, you're barter and trading, you're doing this, you're doing that. Well, they've always traded. They've always done that. They've always commercial fished. That's what Dune'll tell you, that's what the chiefs -- some chiefs will tell you. So why aren't they doing that, why do they have to pay $150,000 a year to do that? They can't afford to do that. They've not -- -they'd rather be fishing rather than logging. I know that, I've talked to them.

So eliminate limited entry for Natives; why not. You know, let's experiment. You know, we have a control problem. White people have a control problem. And it hasn't worked. So that's you know, I would really encourage you to look at the Cordova situation. And I can give you that article before you leave, okay.

FATHER ELLIOTT: Here's the address.

MS. WOLFE: Great. And -- because I think it's an indicator, it's an indicator species of our corporations, you know. Okay.

MR. EATON: Any other questions? (Indiscernible) one thing. (Indiscernible) correct in assuming that a 350-member village corporation is anywhere near the largest village corporation in the state.

MS. WOLFE: Three hundred twenty-seven. Well, yeah.

MR. EATON: (Indiscernible) over a thousand.

MS. WOLFE: Oh, okay.

MR. EATON: (Indiscernible). MS. WOLFE: Village corporations.

MR. EATON: Village corporations.

MS. WOLFE: Okay.

MR. EATON: Thank you very much.

MS. WOLFE: Okay.

MR. EATON: Is Alice (indiscernible) --

(Side conversation)

 

This document was ocr scanned. We have made every attempt to keep the online document the same as the original, including the recorder's original misspellings or typos.

 
 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Contact
ANKN
Last modified July 27, 2011