Environment | Politics

Audio from House hearing on Alaska Native subsistence draft

The House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs held a hearing this morning on Alaska Native subsistence but no one from the state or the Obama administration showed up.

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the subcommittee, called the hearing to discuss a draft version of the Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act of 2014. The bill authorizes state, federal and tribal co-management of wildlife throughout the traditional hunting territory of the Ahtna people.

However, two important parties -- the state of Alaska and the Interior Department -- declined to send representatives to the hearing.

"If they don't want to participate, we'll see if we can do it without them," Young said.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, noted that DOI sent a written statement about the proposal last night. But she said the state must come to the table too.

"The fact that the state of Alaska is not here is of course very troubling," Hanabusa said.

For decades, the state has been at odds with Alaska Natives over subsistence resources. Although the federal courts have consistently upheld Native rights, the state is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Alaska v. Jewell, the latest chapter in the Katie John case.

State and federal law conflict on Native subsistence rights but efforts to change the Alaska Constitution have failed repeatedly. Young said the draft bill is an attempt to find a new way to manage resources.

"This is just the first step," Young said at the conclusion of today's hearing.

The hearing lasted a little over an hour. Audio can be found on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud. There is a small dropout during Young's opening statement.

Committee Notice:
Legislative Hearing on a Discussion Draft bill, “The Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act of 2014” (March 14, 2014)

Related Stories:
Alaska Natives to testify at House hearing on subsistence bill (3/13)
House panel schedules hearing on Alaska Native subsistence bill (3/5)

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