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Testimony

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

Nome, Alaska
September 21, 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

ALASKA NATIVES COMMISSION
HEARING
Nome, ALASKA
SEPTEMBER 21, 1992

Hannah Miller

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Albert Ningeulook? (Pause.) Dazee? (Pause.) Let's see. Bertha Adsuna? (Pause.) Jacob Ahwinona? (Pause.) Frieda Larsen? (Pause.) We'll get there. Hannah Miller? (Pause.) (Laughing.)

MS. MILLER: (Indiscernible - away from microphone.) (Laughing.) They were all here this morning, but --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Oh.

MS. MILLER: -- had to leave.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay.

MS. MILLER: I'm Hannah Miller, and I was born in Golovin, raised between Golovin and White Mountain, (indiscernible), I believe. And I have always had a subsistence way of life ever since I was a child. Therefore, my -- I was wondering if there was some way that this Commission would -- could allow at least the senior citizens of Alaska their subsistence way of life, without pressuring with -- too much with all these regulations?
(Pause.)

I believe we know the problems up here about subsistence; but I'd like to -- I want to make an -- one more plea for us, because when we are trying to make our own living, and you're on a set income, and the source is right here, all it needs for us to do is try and gather up as much of our food as possible; and it's right here in our state, in our villages. But we are -- every time we try to help ourself with our own food, someone comes along and says:

"You can't do that today."

And then if you do get some, they'll say:

"You can't get that many."

And here we have a family to feed and not too much money; and we are restricted to -- I believe we are forced into poverty this way. We can no longer help ourselves when we can and when we need to. Is there some way that someone can do something about this?

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: The subsistence question is one of our higher priorities. What I was wanting for them would be maybe your definition of either senior citizens or elders, --

MS. MILLER: Uh-huh (affirmative).

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: -- knowing full well that we're going to probably bump into that definition and have to define that. Then, how -- if elders can't get their food and it's dependent on other people, how would we go about doing that? Maybe some solutions on defining the word senior citizen or elder, and also, maybe, how do we take care of those people that are at home and can't provide for themselves?

MS. MILLER: This is where the limits hurt, because I myself, when I'm fishing, I not only fish for me and my family, I share with my neighbors that cannot go out. And this past year, they have put on our little permits that we can fish for an elder out --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay. Okay, so you --

MS. MILLER: -- get their permits. But --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: -- you would -- it would - - you could name the elder on the permit, huh? On a permit.

MS. MILLER: I don't know lust how they were going to work that, but it did say that on the permit.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay, but that would be a solution to some of the problem. Now, h --

MS. MILLER: That would be one solution, if they would allow us to fish.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Right.

MS. MILLER: But they don't allow us to fish in our rivers now.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay. How 'bout the definition of senior citizen?

MS. MILLER: That would be just like you define every other way, you know.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay, using the --

MS. MILLER: Uh-huh (affirmative).

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: -- what do you call it? Longevity definition?

MS. MILLER: Probably.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: It would be -- would define the senior citizen. Those that receive longevity are senior citizens.

MS. MILLER: They are. They have to be.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay. Thank you, Hannah.

MS. MILLER: And the other was the problem of our children right now, and this would go for subsistence, too. We should -- maybe we should go back to the natural way of closing fishing and stuff. When we fish, we don't fish in bad weather, and sometimes that's the only time the permits are open. If we did go back to our own way of life -- subsistence way of life -- we would strictly go by weather; and we would not over-harvest.

And they say today fish are dwindling down because of more people -- of more influx of people here, and which they fail to note is when I was growing up, we had a lot of dogs and a lot more fish to catch. And I don't think having more people here has any affect on them, because we were catching a lot more fish then than we are now.

And the times they give us to fish sometimes are too late. Last two summers in our rivers, we couldn't fish, because they said there were not enough fish; but there was a lot of pinks. And we were still restricted on pinks in other rivers.
And the schools, I was really hit hard when they took school -- prayers out of schools. We need to get back in tune with God, I think, for all our problems, because federal government, state government have done what they thought would work, and those had never worked. I think we need to go back to the church. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Thank you, Hannah. I think that area, probably more than other areas, has really come close to the word subsistence and how it affects our region. So thanks for that testimony on subsistence.


 

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