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Fly Grant today
 

Survival teachings inherent to our sustenance

 


In as much as the teachings of survival in the vast wilderness of rural Alaska are not as much as in my boyhood days, I would like to take this superb opportunity to reach out to our young fishers and hunters. The young men who will be the providers of future families in days and years to come. And as the elders of the past used personal experiences in addition to the inherent survival traditions passed down from generation to generation, I will share my personal experiences also.

Inherent traditions in a sense...they are not written on paper, but are expressed by word of mouth. In the generation of my great grandparents, they were verbally expressed practically daily, in the Qasgiq, where the young men slept with their fathers.

This past week, tribal leaders from the riverine and coastal villages of Western and Interior Alaska convened in Bethel with state and federal fishery resource managers to hear the state of the salmon that return to their spawning habitats every summer. Therefore salmon may be on the minds of many folks, although months away from their annual migration up the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers.

For those village delegates that were able to attend, it is important that you report back to your community council/members, especially on the management guidelines for sustainable resources.

As some tribal delegates are young emerging village leaders, I would especially like to encourage you to pass on the many excellent fishing traditions that were eloquently expressed by the user panelist that spoke from knowledge gained through years of sustenance in the rural areas of Alaska.

The teachings of our elders I hold in reverence, just as a father reverently holds his firstborn child. Those that were here before us in our homeland had lived upon the land for centuries. They hunted, trapped, and fished for their survival. And they knew well the land which I have occupied for seven decades...living in the same ways they did.

The education I received in school and enriched by my own reading was an excellent one. Yet, as a child, and in my growing days, I traveled much into a wild land where the only education needed was what the land could provide. Just about anywhere a man goes, he’ll find somebody has been there before him. Those that were here before us did not have our education, and their upbringing was not Christian, but there was nothing wrong with their senses and wits. They were tuned to the land and have lived in these Western lands, in the same way, for a mighty long time. They were hard men living upon a hard land that demanded much.

Salmon is a renewable food resource. And the harvest guidelines that are imposed upon us are important for sustaining our main food resource in the villages. The returns for the 2012 spawning migrations are expected to be less. Rightly so, when one views the parent years of returning runs.

As we have heard before, the highest by-catch of king salmon that were AYK bound was in 2007, when approximately 121,000 were caught by the Bering Sea pollock fishing fleet. These king salmon were dumped into the Bering Sea. There has been some changes made later that may allow an increase in returning numbers.

Therefore, as I said in my last article, co-management of the allowable harvest by the many stakeholders must occur to sustain and save the salmon. Like I said above, we have been fishing for thousands of years, and our descendants can also, but we have to have fishery harvest guidelines to assure future returning stocks for our children, and their children, and so on.

 

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