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Testimony

Submitted to the
Alaska Natives Commission
in connection with a hearing at

Fairbanks, Alaska
July 18, 1992

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 | Exhibit List | PDF Version

 

Economic Issues: Group B

 

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Thank you, welcome to our session. Before we get to Group B, I would also like to introduce to this meeting another member of the Commission who has joined us. Father Sebesta, are you in the audience? Welcome to the meeting, and when a segment comes up that you are personally interested in by virtue of your participation in the task force, I wish you would come up and join us. I have already invited Father Elliott to participate in the Governance section. I do believe you are in the Health task force; and if that's agreeable with you, I would love to have you come up here and join us when that comes up.

All right, Group B, please come forward and be recognized. Would you gentlemen be kind enough to introduce yourselves?

MR. MOORE: My name is Gary Moore. I'm a Economic Development Specialist with Tanana Chiefs Conference.

MR. RUTLEDGE: I'm Ed Rutledge, Director of Planning and Development with Tanana Chiefs.

MR. MADROS: I'm Pat Madros, commercial fisherman.

RECORDER: Excuse me, gentlemen, you really don't have to move that around, because that's only the microphone that comes into my equipment; and the one in the center is actually the amplified mike; so you're fine just how you are.

COMMISSIONER THOMPSON: So got to use the one in the center.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Okay, since it's the one in the center, we'll start with the gentleman in the center, if it's okay with everybody.

MR. RUTLEDGE: I'd like to change the order of presentation if I can and allow Gary Moore to go first, myself to go second, and Pat Madros third.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: All right, that's fine.

MR. RUTLEDGE: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Please do.

MR. MOORE: As I stated, my name is Gary Moore, and I'd like to thank the Commission for this opportunity to speak on economic issues particularly in the Interior Region, which is together with the Tanana Chiefs Conference Region. Myself and Ed Rutledge has prepared a testimony together, which I will read the first half of the section; and Ed will conclude with the final version. I will highlight some of the economic issues and concerns to the Interior Region of Alaska, and Ed will highlight on some of the possible solutions or ideas on how to address some of those concerns.

(TESTIMONY OF GARY MOORE ATTACHED AS EXHIBIT #5)

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Okay, thank you, Mr. Moore. Mr. Rutledge?

MR. RUTLEDGE: As a non-Native, I think it's important for me to establish some credibility for speaking before this Commission.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Not to me, but go ahead.

MR. RUTLEDGE: Over the past 15 years, I've worked for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations, serving Native Alaskans. Worked for the Community Enterprise Development Corporation out of Anchorage in the late Seventies; the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in Barrow in the early Eighties; and, for over five years now, have been with Tanana Chiefs. It's my observations during my travels throughout Alaska, with the exception of Southeast, I haven't spent much time there; but elsewhere throughout Alaska, there's a -- consistently over this period, I've observed [original document is illegible] --

(TESTIMONY OF RUTLEDGE ATTACHED AS EXHIBIT #[6])

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Thank you. Mr. Madros?

MR. MADROS: Mr. Boyko, because I was brought in here to testify on the fisheries, and I'm only allowed five minutes, if I do go over five minutes, will you please stop me, because I figured out the amount of money --

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: I haven't stopped any of the others. I'm not going to pick on you. (Laughter)

MR. MADROS: I figure for the amount of money it took to bring me in here and for five minutes, I’m running -- my value is about $88 a minute; and if I speak over five minutes, I'll probably devalue myself; so stop me at five minutes. (Laughter) I was brought in to talk about the commercial fisheries in the Interior, and mostly in the YAAAA (ph.) Region. I process eggs, and I'm a commercial fisherman; and I'm also a subsistence fisherman; so I can speak from all three. Basically, in the years -- the fish board has constantly cut back on our fishing time in YAAAA (ph.); and so our money from the fisheries has been constantly been reduced. Three years ago in YAAAA (ph.), I estimated about $600,000 was brought into the fisheries into YAAAA (ph.). This last season, which ended yesterday, we had four 24-hourperiods the whole summer, commercially. I figured -- and I'm being conservative -- $300,000 to $400,000 was brought into the economy; and you're talking from below Anvik, all the way up to Bishop Mountain, which is about 300-some miles of the river. You're talking, basically, about six or seven communities that are involved here; and about 70-somepermit holders. So it -- I think, on an average, I just barely figured out, it's about four to five thousand dollars per permit holder is all that that family made at commercial fishing; but it's the mainstay; and right now, with the economy out there, with no fire fighting, which a lot of the other people go to do, our economy out there is basically hurting; and the state will feel the impact later on this winter, when there's money that's going to be screamed for from social services, to suicide' to everything else. It will be filled. So, I don't feel sorry for the Third World countries, because I think in our Interior, we are a Third World country. We are treated like that. The Fish Board have refused to do their business as the State to regulate us properly. Last year alone they handed to the Interior fish process -- Interior fishermen, and said:

"Here, you take care of your own business."

And, basically, they ran away. They didn't give them no money or no kind of means to do this; and so they didn't do none of the things to regulate the river in a decent manner; and I think the Interior is going to hurt on this. I didn't have time to put all the numbers together; because I just got off the plane last night; and I didn't have time to go through this, so I'm just talking --

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Feel free to submit them later. This record will stay open for a long time.

MR. MADROS: As a processor, in order to develop a viable business, I have to be open more than four days out, of a year; and it takes a minimum of fifty to a hundred thousand dollars to develop a small processing plant such as mine; and it was foolish of me to spend $50,000 of my money to develop a processing plant four years ago to run four days out of a year. It was not a worthwhile investment, if you look at it from economics. And for me as a processor to develop farther, no bank in the world is going to loan me thirty-five to forty thousand dollars that I'm going to need to improve my services to the community for a four-day fishing season. So, as a processor, I'm hamstrung, because of the Fish Board refusing to do their business; and economically, to get a one pound of processed product out of my camp right now costs me, from my camp to Anchorage, costs approximately $1.25. That's processed. That's not counting what I have to pay for it, or what it costs me to process it; so by the time I get anything out of my processing camp down there, it's already cost me approximately $7 if you figure out the labor, the amount of money I put into it; so I guess what I need to do, or what we need to do, if there's going to be any kind of improvement in the fisheries commercially -- and above board, I' ll say above board -- is we're going to have either a subsidization in transportation or we're going to have to have the health boar -- the DEC lenient on some of their ways. Right now, we have a lot of people I know of that are selling salmon strips who process it in unregulated smokehouses and sell it on the black market. And they are making money; but, of course, they're not paying taxes on it, or they're not responsible for basically poisoning people, if botulism, or whatever, happen to be on their product; and so they're getting away with it.

So, it's a -- commercial processors such as me who are hamstrung with all these obligations and yet I have no sign of money in the years to come to help me out. And one of the biggest things with fisheries in Interior is that it's going to be a viable renewable resource. If it's going to be a viable renewable resource as a commercial processor, I'm going to have to be helped substantially economically, or subsidized one way or the other for me to continue to do this, because I cannot -- and a few of the processor cannot afford to keep running a processing plant in a commercial fisheries that is not happening, for four days out of a year.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Thank you, sir. Morrie?

COMMISSIONER THOMPSON: I think in -- for the sake of time, I'll pass for now.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Well, I just had a few questions directed to you, Pat. In regards to trying to get other means of money, or some help, have you tried locating, or tried maybe to get some help from the regional corporation, or from the non -- like Tanana Chiefs? Is there any moneys available to help?

MR. MADROS: Other than right out state grants to help me improve, there is no money available. I went to Key Bank, NBA, and First Interstate, and I've talked to them before, and they said:

"Oh, yeah, you're in the fisheries. How are you doing?"
"Very well."
"How long do you fish?"
"Four days out of a year."
"Get out of here."

They ain't going to invest, because they look at 12 monthly payments -- every month -- for the money that they are going to invest in me; and if fishing is the only thing I have to do, there's no way I can get 12 months out of four days of fishing.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: And I have a question for Ed in regard to a need for a jobs. Has there been any programs available from Tanana Chiefs that can be brought out to the villagers and means of economic needs?

MR. RUTLEDGE: Our emphasis --

COMMISSIONER MASEK: And what do you think should be done?

MR. RUTLEDGE: Okay. Our emphasis right now is really in tribal development. We're trying to, I guess, breathe new life into the tribal governments, with the hope that once we are able to develop some administrative capacity within the tribal governments, that they will be able to form some tribal-owned enterprises and employ additional people within the communities.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Okay, and you’re mentioning the harvest of the salmon. What kind of issues is Tanana Chiefs taking up on this the harvest of the salmon; and have you considering maybe focusing on getting a lobby or someone who can help the fisheries, help your people out with this problem?

MR. RUTLEDGE: We've tried a couple different things here. For one, we're actively involved in the formation of the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association; and this past year, when the chum cap was raised for False Pass, we were very actively involved in the petition-gathering process to try to counter that. Unfortunately, both moves at this point have been unsuccessful; and the Yukon River Fisheries is declining its resource base.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Okay. And I have one quick question for Gary. In regards to the unemployment, why do you think this rate is so high in the villages? Is there anything -- do you have any comments on that? Why do you think it's so high? I know you're in the planning and development part of TCC.

MR. MOORE: Yes, one of my specific duties with Tanana Chiefs since the beginning of this year, as an Economic Development Specialist, is to find ways to develop employment opportunities for rural residents at their location; and it is quite a challenge, including many of the obstacles that we've mentioned today. And some of the suggestions as to relieve some of the problems.

One of the big factors getting in the way of development in economics is -- just one example is the cost of transportation. The unemployment figures, the reasons they are so high is there is just no permanent employment opportunities available in the villages.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Well, do you think Tanana Chiefs can -- or maybe even the regional corporation, can start some incentives towards making the villages more economically, depending on theirself in the village, such as creating maybe small businesses, where the people can be busy, and working, and doing something?

MR. MOORE: Yes, that's one of our concerns and objectives is to definitely try and develop on-site job opportunities in those rural communities so residents don't have to leave their community to obtain year-round employment. As far as the regional corporation's efforts to do that, I'm not completely aware. Morris would probably be more appropriate to address that. But as far as Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Tanana Chiefs Conference is attempting to strategically develop job opportunities in the villages; and there are currently grants that were being submitted by Tanana Chiefs Conference in different departments that establishes at least one position in each of the Native villages served by Tanana Chiefs Conference. And, as time goes on, we are focusing on trying to keep jobs in the villages, as compared to developing new jobs in the central office, or else in the sub-regional offices. We'd like to get and develop more of those in the actual villages that we are serving, so that we start to address those rural concerns.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: And have you looked back previously in the last ten years, if there were some programs that were available, can you give us a report of maybe which programs were working, and which didn't work, and maybe you can use those studies so that you don't fall into the same situation where the program does not work, and you don't waste your time using that same program again?

MR. MOORE: I haven't really done any research into --

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Okay.

MR. MOORE: -- going back ten years or so; but, certainly, if we were made -- brought to the attention of successful programs that would work for our situation, certainly would like to see them.

COMMISSIONER MASEK: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Following up on Beverly' s question, now this is particularly directed at Ed Rutledge, there were some excellent points made about ways and means of stimulating employment in rural Alaska, but I keep hearing government, government, government, government -- federal, state, local, tribal.

What is wrong with the private-sector part of the Native community rolling up its sleeve and pitching in? And I haven't heard any response that -- Beverly asked about regional corporations, about Tanana Chiefs, what is their ability to generate funds, and to generate economic pump priming, as distinguished from government, which obviously is shrinking and retrenching, and you're not going to get anything them for the foreseeable future?

MR. RUTLEDGE: I think any job expansion in rural communities basically boils down to individual people, and the skills those people have to either be self-employed or be employed in an organization, or a government, or whatever, and to create the new jobs to the expansions of whatever entity they're working for. I think the major benefit that Tanana Chiefs can provide would be in assisting people and acquiring educations that will allow them to take business skills, and either vocational or culturally relevant skills, and return to the villages. So much of the education seems to result in urban employment, rather than rural employment. I think Tanana Chiefs can be of particular benefit in encouraging students to receive education that they can take back to their villages.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: And what form will that assistance take?

MR. RUTLEDGE: Well, we offer scholarships, grants. We have for years. That's no different today than it was. Encouraging people to make life choices is difficult. Individual people have to come to their own conclusion for what they want to do with their life. Hopefully, to Tanana Chiefs being in the news, presenting the issues in TCC's perspective, people who are choosing to go to school, will see the need, will have learned of the need to take their skills back to the communities.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: In an earlier panel, I suggested that there might be economic incentives created, like total or partial forgiveness of student loans, or some other economic incentives to obtain commitments for graduates to go back to their own communities. Have you given any thought to that?

MR. RUTLEDGE: I haven't.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: One last thing. Both Ed Rutledge and Mr. Madros raised the specter of the intercept fisheries and what's going on in the various areas in the Interior that are being limited to, and discriminated against, for the benefit of such areas as False Pass Intercept Fishery, a large percentage of which goes to out-of-state large fishing vessels. And my question to you is; Is there anything that we as a Commission could recommend to put an end to this? I saw the decision that came out of -- I believe it was in the Superior Court in Home, where the judge said that what the Fisheries Board was doing amounted to a form of economic genocide; but he then played Pontius Pilate and said:

"But I can't do anything about it,"

which absolutely makes we wonder why we even have -judges sitting there when they said that. But is there anything we can do to reverse that trend?

I understand, for instance, that at False Pass they can fish seven days a week and 24 hours a day; and in Region M, for instance, it's four days a week and only six hours. Anything that you would recommend that we put into our recommendation on that issue?

MR. RUTLEDGE: Well, I would recommend that the cap for the incidental catch of chum be lowered. I would recommend that the Fish and Game be encouraged to do substantial research along the Yukon River to genetically identify those stocks of fish, and once the stocks are identifiable genetically, to sample catches in ail intercept fisheries; and if the number of salmon being intercepted is so great that it will not sustain the commercial and subsistence fisheries along the Yukon, that the intercept fishery be shut down until that run is past.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: But isn't it a fact, though, that like, for instance, the current season, the Fisheries Board adjusted the various allocations between these areas without really any scientific study, just based on political considerations? And how do you deal with that?

MR. MADROS: Well, it's just like the fish -- the biologists over here at the U -- on College Road. They changed their fishing scenario three different times from the first of January 'til we went to fish the Fifth of July, on the same data they had in November, Now how can you run a fisheries when the biologists can't even agree to how they're going to fish it, or how they're going to run a river?

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: The flip side of that is that when you go into court, or when you appeal to higher authority, they say:

"Well, these are the experts. We have to listen to them."

Obviously, the experts don't know what the heck they're doing.

MR. MADROS: Obviously, they've never ran the river in a very viable way economically or to get a sustained yield from fisheries. I've also been involved with the Yukon River Negotiations Agreement -- I mean Commission between Canada and the United States on the Yukon River, and I've seen them give one set of information to the Canadian group and then turn around to the Fish Board three or four months later, give a different scenario; and so they're not even giving the same scenario to the same entities. And I'm sitting there listening to them, and I confronted numerous individuals on this and says:

"Why are you giving two different sets of figures?"

And I was actually removed from the board when the new governor got in, because I was too vocal. I didn't want to come to where we're coming to now; and the fish is there. The fish were there this year; but because the biologists over there refuse to come out and look at the fisheries while it’s happening, they kept us shut down. And so if you're talking about government, my first reaction to all this is probably to shut off the game biologists' budget and just have nobody over there, and maybe we can come to an agreement we had way before we were a state, where everybody fished and had consideration for everybody else up and down the river.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Okay. Anybody else wishing to be heard on economic planning and development? If not, we'll -- or did you have any questions that you saved?

COMMISSIONER THOMPSON: No, I don't.

COMMISSIONER BOYKO: Okay. If not, we'll shut this segment down.

RECORDER: May I have copies of your presentation?

MR. MADROS: (Inaudible response.)

RECORDER: Oh, great. Thanks a lot.


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.

 

 
 

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