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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

Job Kokchuruk

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Next to testify will be Mr. Joe Kokochuruk.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: I am happy to be before the Commissioners that I find are familiar with our problems in our area. What a joy to be before you folks, and ones that come to testify, and I'm glad that the governments decide to get a fresh idea, according to the statement I read in the paper. I'm glad you ought -- you're looking for the - - what doesn't work in our problems up here, and I thank you that you know the problems in our area.

According to the Natives, Fish and Game Board and so forth were not in agreement with the way we fish up here. It's -- I believe it's -- it would work down Lower 48 -- one time they used to say, and now it's 49, I think.

Up here, it's very uncertain when the weather is problem, when the opening time to subsist, or so forth. And many people lose out when there's opening for subsisting in ocean. They used to go by the weather -- according to the weather, and then they used to hunt or fish according to how much they need for the winter. That we can't follow no more, because we have regulations that are imposed upon us. And then also we have weather and also that tide (indiscernible) is a problem.

Then solutions to that problem you're looking for, I believe if you would recognize our beliefs that were passed down from way back, that is, never abuse no fish or no game that we subsist. That is, today I always notice when there's some fish laying on top of the ground or so forth, which the -- our young people throw aside, or the ones that happen to die possibly by sports fishermen that just like to play with our fish. That's a no, no, according to our beliefs. We can't play with no game. That should be changed. What they catch, they should bring home, or give to the elders or to people in need. That should -- you folks should make a rule on that. I believe that’s why the fish are getting less and less, because we're abusing them.

Then I've been asked to speak on the -- regarding our problems here in this city. We have young people problem, and now I understand that they'd like to do without the receiving center for young people here in our city. As you know, this area has no roads accessible to -- like in the states. We all use airplane. The villages are not connected up, and so it's quite a problem when there's a problem child, or young ma -- one of -- some of our young people get into trouble. Therefore, if this should close, it will play havoc on the -- our people up here if they should close that down. That's the only secure place where young people can be received. That much I'd like to talk on that one.

Then many of you know the airports in Lower 48, clear to Fairbanks and Anchorage, it's always nice. When you land there, you go right into the toilets. Even though you fly only one hour sometimes, I always notice many, many passengers always go right to the toilets. Not so with our little villages. Up here some villages have no willows, no trees. When you land, sometimes when the pilot say he got to wait for somebody from the tower to corns or some freight that has to be put on, here possibly you have eaten something that you never eat in the village, and you're going to go; and I went through a lot of times:

"Where can I go? There's no willows. There's no place to go."

I wish when they make airports, anyone who contracts to build an airport should think:

"Where can we put a man and woman where they can ease themselves?"

It's a problem. Like in White Mountain. I often land there. Our -- it's right -- I'm right in the hill, and it's a problem. And then when we go berry picking in the highway. It's good when we go toward a lot of the willows; but evidently this area doesn't have too many willows where we can go ease ourselves. So when I drive, I always make sure the elders have a chance to ease themselves. I take it just -- I take some little reason to stop and -- I think to check something or look around. Lo and behold, elders would go into the willows. I know I -- it worked. So we don't have nothing down (indiscernible) area. You can see long ways where we go berry picking or where we go fishing. Right in Bonanza would be a proper place if road builders would make a place where you can ease yourself. It would be good for our tourists. I wonder what our tourists think. I believe the area must have the mouth, no other outlet (laughing) when they come among us. I think it would be good for our tourists even, if we set so much -- so many places where somebody can go ease.

How the problem is the doors. I always notice, They should be made of two-inch planks, because I always notice that up here there are -- they're windy, and they generally swing back and forth when somebody (indiscernible) decide to get out fast and go somewhere. I would suggest to put heavy doors and strong hinges on those places, so that they wouldn't be like just a thin plywood, where they swing back and torch and break up in no time.

So those are the three concerns I have. There's a lot of them, of course; but I like to have those presented before you. I hope you can -- the state and the federal government would do something about that: make our airports like airports in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Let's make it so that a tourist also would enjoy those places. Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Thanks, Job.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Job, sir, just for the record, what village are you from or place?

MR. KOKOCHURUK: I'm from White Mountain, but residing in Nome at this time.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Thank you, sir.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: Any questions?

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: I remember Job when I was a little boy, 'cause my dad, Clarence, used to deal with you a little bit way back then. So you -- he's been a resident of this area for a long time. Job, I like your suggestions on the airports, and it's at an opportune time, because right now a lot of our contracts are being awarded to those airports, and there's no reason why we shouldn't have a little commode.

I was at Search and Rescue up in Kotzebue, and they had one real nice commode there, and that made it lots of difference in how we do things up there, and it really helps.

Regarding the Fish and Game issues with regard to subsistence, that is going to be taken real close look at, and it's already been mentioned at Commission meetings, and the Fish and Game conflict with the subsistence or of the conflict of sub -- the Fish and Game regulations with subsistence is one of the bigger items we hope to tackle in this Commission.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: When I stand before Fish and Game, this is what they are. I believe that worked for thousands of years. When I present them, this is the way we do it long ago. So I wish they would get interested in our culture.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Right.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: They've -- governments are worried about our culture -- preserving our culture. That's part of our culture, how we handle our fish, so --

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: The perfect example is with a caribou or sheep. When a first sportsman goes and hunts for sheep and caribou, they like to come back with the horns. Us, we like to come back with the meat, and the skin, and leave everything else. So I know what you mean. We'll work on that.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: Make sure those hunters bring back the meat for poor people or elders.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Okay, thank you.

COMMISSIONER ELLIOTT: Job, when I left the airport in Anchorage this morning, there were some hunters going out, I think to Seattle, and they had racks and racks of moose. And I wondered what they did with the meat. I'd liked to have --

MR. KOKOCHURUK: You should impose that real strongly to the tourists or hunters. That's -- that will deplete our game if we just play with the animal. That should be a rule. That's our culture. That -- from way back. And people don't know what's depleting our area. I think that's where our problem is.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Thank you, Job.

MR. KOKOCHURUK: Okay.

REPORTER: Job, may I have your notes? Is that possible?

MR. KOKOCHURUK: I don't have notes.

REPORTER: Oh, okay, that's fine. (Laughter.) Thank you.

COMMISSIONER TOWARAK: Thank you, Job.


 

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