Wolf Song of Alaska News

Racist Comment at Alaska Board of Game Shows State Attitude on Subsistence

Letters / Anchorage Daily News / November 19, 2006

The mission of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is to protect and manage the resources for the maximum benefit of the people of the state.

Board of Game chairman Ron Somerville's malicious statement about Alaska Natives and beer at the Oct. 7 public meeting held in Anchorage on subsistence taking of caribou and moose was an unmistakably blatant, racist statement that reflects the climate of politics and policies in Alaska regarding Natives and subsistence ("Somerville apologizes for offending remarks," Nov. 2). Alaska's government, through laws, policies, rules and regulations has attacked subsistence since statehood.

History has shown that the majority of changes to policies were to take away any rights, allocation or priority of resources for Alaskans through subsistence.

Alaskans -- whether Native, rural or urban -- consume less than 1 percent of the total harvest of fish and game through subsistence. So what is the big deal?

It is all about money and control. Have we, as Alaska leaders and residents, become anesthetized to the blatant disrespect we show for Alaska Natives and subsistence? Why haven't our governor, legislators, mayors or city officials called for Somerville's resignation? Is it because the statement was about Alaska Natives? If it was about any other race, would we brush the incident off so easily?

Maximum benefit for the people includes respecting and addressing the needs of those who don't live by Costco.

---- Myrna Gardner / Anchorage

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