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Ahtna proposes game changer

By MJ Thim 9:31 PM March 14, 2014

Native corporation wants to be part of the management team

ANCHORAGE – After 43 years, an Alaska Native corporation may finally get a seat at the table when it comes to managing wildlife on its land.

Congressman Don Young held a hearing Friday on Capitol Hill to discuss a draft bill proposal by the Ahtna Regional Alaska Native Corporation that would create a new management system for wildlife of the Copper River region. The proposal is focused specifically on how game management relates to subsistence.

Currently, Ahtna is not a member of the management team. The State of Alaska and the federal government are the only ones.

The bill is called The Alaska Native Subsistence Co-Management Demonstration Act of 2014.

Both Young and members of Ahtna said subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering continue to be critically important for all Alaska Natives in terms of culture and food security. Yet they said Alaska Native corporations aren’t taken seriously in the decision-making.

“Forty years is a long time to wait,” said Michelle Anderson, president of Ahtna. “We have participated faithfully in both federal and state processes. And what we really want, what our elders want, is a long-term solution. And we felt that the best way to get that was to work through the federal system and work with Congressman Young.”

No one from the State of Alaska or the federal government attended Friday’s hearing. Congressman Young said he was not happy about that and expects to have input on the draft bill.

The draft will be open for public comment for a week.

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