Land Reborn:
A History of Administration and Visitor Use in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
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Chapter XV:
Subsistence Fishing

With commercial fishermen claiming moral rights in the park and Alaska politicians endeavoring to entrench the fishing industry in park waters, it was only a matter of time until people pointed out the strange state of affairs that existed when the NPS tolerated the extraction of millions of dollars of fish for commercial use yet prohibited subsistence harvests of those same resources by the Natives of Hoonah.

Beginning in the winter of 1988-89, when the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries issued subsistence and personal-use permits to Native residents of Hoonah for marine areas within the park, the debate over the Glacier Bay fishery became more tangled, divisive, and emotionally charged than before. NPS officials were hesitant to enforce the park's ban on subsistence use, or to rule out the possibility that such use could be compatible with the park's purposes; yet they remained adamant that the law as it stood did not allow subsistence. Conservation groups were split over the issue, the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club taking a strong position against subsistence and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council vigorously supporting it.

By diverting attention to the longstanding jurisdictional dispute between the state of Alaska and the NPS over ownership of the marine areas of the park, the subsistence issue threw a monkey wrench in the Park Service's drive to eliminate commercial fishing in the park. When the subsistence issue was injected into the debate in the spring of 1989, many people suspected that the state was using it to reopen the question of jurisdiction--that the state of Alaska and commercial fishing interests were playing politics with the Tlingits as the Tlingits began sparring once more with the NPS. [1] Certainly in the short term the subsistence issue worked to the commercial fishermen's advantage and energized local non-Native fishing communities to seek legal protections for a "traditional" commercial fishery in Glacier Bay. However, this does not deny the fact that the Natives were working quite wittingly for their own interests in this process.

Subsistence, ANILCA, and Glacier Bay

Park Service officials maintained, with justifiable assurance, that ANILCA does not allow subsistence use in Glacier Bay National Park. (It does allow it in all preserves established under the act, including Glacier Bay National Preserve.) Proponents of subsistence use in the park argued their case in a number of ways. They questioned NPS jurisdiction over Glacier Bay, alleged that the legislative history of ANILCA shows that Congress intended to allow subsistence uses in the park, and contended that the evolution of subsistence policy since ANILCA points to a need for statutory or regulatory reform. In light of the recent debate, a brief history of the subsistence provisions in ANILCA is relevant to Glacier Bay National Park, even though the law now excludes that use from the park.

The idea that Native subsistence required federal protection sprang, as we have seen, from the Alaska Native Claim Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA). Congress recognized that the 40,000,000 acres that ANCSA apportioned to Alaska Natives would not be sufficient to provide for the subsistence needs of some 50,000 people (a considerable majority of the total Native population) who harvested wild foods for their livelihood. Congress expected the secretary of the interior and the state of Alaska to ensure Natives' continued use of the public lands, including most, if not all, of the D-2 lands. At the same time, Alaska's prodigious population growth placed increasing pressure on the state's wildlife populations and habitat. Most of the human population growth stemmed from the oil boom and non-Native immigration into the urban centers; however, an exceedingly high birth rate in village Alaska was producing rapid population growth in the rural areas, too. Thus federal subsistence protection was not only a matter of establishing some form of privileged access to public lands for subsistence users, but also a problem of protecting subsistence resources from overharvest--both by urban-based sport hunters and by rural-based subsistence users themselves.

The Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission, a ten-member body created by ANCSA to make preliminary recommendations on the enormous land withdrawals made under Section 17 (d) (2) of the act, was the first group to examine this problem directly. In the course of numerous hearings held in Native villages in 1972-73, the commission learned first-hand that subsistence ranged across a broad spectrum of activities from direct use of the resource by the family of the provider to some commercial activities and the taking of resources as a part of the individual's cultural heritage. Moved by the "often eloquent testimony" of the Natives, the commission reported to Congress in 1974 that subsistence was "deeper than physical need. The Native particularly feels these activities are integral to his culture." [2]

Natives made another important contribution to the emerging legal provisions for subsistence with A Report on Subsistence and the Conservation of the Yupik Lifestyle (1975), produced by Yupiktak Bista, a non-profit organization of the Yupik Eskimos of the Kuskokwim-Yukon delta region. According to the report, the mistake of past federal policy was to equate subsistence with welfare and poverty--concepts that were alien to the indigenous people. Alaska Natives were faced with three alternatives. They could attempt to return to their old ways (not really possible or desirable), they could move steadily away from their culture until they had completely adopted Western culture (possible, perhaps, but no more desirable), or they could find a balance between the two worlds. The report blistered the federal government for consistently formulating policies based solely on the second alternative--on the assumption that Natives were on the path to complete assimilation. "Does it have to be one or the other?" Yupiktak Bista demanded. "Does one way of life have to die, so that another can live?" [3]

As this dialogue continued through the 1970s, it became apparent to Natives and conservationists alike that land-use planning in Alaska required some different models, drawn in some cases from other regions of the world. Alaska Natives looked increasingly to Canadian and Scandinavian land-use patterns, where arctic and subarctic indigenous peoples maintained more or less local social and economic patterns that revolved around fur trapping, fishing, or reindeer herding. These patterns co-existed with the modern capitalist order in a form of "economic dualism." The cultural integrity of such societies could be protected, it was argued, by carefully calibrating the central government's social and economic development programs to serve these mixed economies. [4] The establishment of local and regional subsistence boards--of a locally implemented program for regulating the subsistence sector of rural Alaska's mixed economy--was based on concepts imported from the international arena.

Similarly, conservationists looked to precedents in Africa, South America, and Australasia as they fashioned new ways of accommodating national parks and indigenous peoples. An important influence on the development of a subsistence policy during the 1970s, according to Celia Hunter, an Alaskan wilderness advocate and member of the Joint Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission, was the writings of Raymond F. Dasmann. [5] A senior ecologist on the faculty of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Switzerland, Dasmann strongly favored the view that global environmental problems demanded local problem solving. He postulated that human societies can be divided into two categories, with some societies in transition from one category to the other. These two categories he called "ecosystem people" and "biosphere people." [6] The former embraces all of the members of indigenous traditional cultures, while the latter includes everyone who is tied in with the global technological civilization. Ecosystem people live within one or perhaps two or three closely related ecosystems. They have to live simply within the carrying capacity of their own ecosystem, or face the consequences of drawing down their own limited resources. Biosphere people have access to the resources of the entire biosphere. Biosphere people can exploit the resources of one ecosystem to the point of causing great devastation--something that would be impossible or unthinkable for people who were dependent upon that particular ecosystem. Conversely, biosphere people can afford to create national parks in which, according to the traditional model, nature is set apart from human consumptive uses. In most of the world today, Dasmann observed, areas that biosphere people see as potential national parklands are the very lands still inhabited by ecosystem people. Dasmann cited examples--in Africa and South America--where biosphere people had created national parks and forceably removed the ecosystem people, at great cost to the people affected.

It was Dasmann's view that this must not continue. "National parks must not serve as a means for displacing the members of traditional societies who have always cared for the land and its biota," he wrote. "Nor can national parks survive as islands surrounded by hostile people who have lost the land that was once their home. Parks cannot survive in a natural state if they are surrounded by lands that are degraded or devastated by failure to obey the simplest ecological rules." Dasmann suggested that the proper direction for new national parks was toward what he called a "future primitive"--toward the creation of natural landscapes that include human societies which are permanent, sustainable, and embody nature conservation as a matter of course. [7]

Putting these ideas into practice required much trial and error. It had to be acknowledged at the outset that "ecosystem people" in Alaska were already linked to global technological society at least to some degree. However the subsistence way of life was defined, it would not, strictly speaking, be contained within one or two ecosystems. The "future primitive," as the term suggested, would be some kind of blending of the traditional and the modern. Still, what did "permanent" mean in light of ongoing cultural change? How would new technologies be assimilated? What did "sustainable" mean in light of human population growth? Would increased harvests or expanded use areas be allowable? How would "ecosystem people" and "biosphere people" be defined under the law?

Within the Department of the Interior, NPS personnel took the lead in developing legislation and policy. Of all the conservation agencies, the NPS was most experienced in interpreting Native American culture and, as the Wilderness Society's Michael McCloskey noted, the proposed Alaskan parks afforded an opportunity for the NPS to "weave it into the fabric of a number of units." [8] Between 1975 and about 1978, two NPS officials assigned to the Alaska Task Force, Robert Belous and T. Stell Newman, developed a series of position papers covering these issues. [9] In addition, anthropologists Richard K. Nelson and Kathleen H. Mautner and NPS ranger Ray Bane made a detailed analysis of subsistence use in the proposed Gates of the Arctic National Park, while the NPS made a number of smaller studies of subsistence use on other proposed parklands. [10] Through this work the NPS was in a position to shape the subsistence provisions in the Carter administration's version of the Alaska Lands Bill in 1977.

Research on subsistence was conducted by other groups, too, including Friends of the Earth, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the Arctic Slope Regional Association, and most importantly, the House and Senate subcommittees which conducted hearings in Alaska in April and August 1977 respectively. While the Interior Department and Congress focused on national legislation, the state of Alaska enacted its own subsistence law in 1978. Absent the threat of a federal subsistence law, Alaskans probably would not have passed a subsistence law; as it was, state lawmakers had an important role in influencing the subsistence provisions of ANILCA. Believing that state regulation of subsistence would be preferable to a federal law that white Alaskans resented, Alaska Natives lobbied strenuously for this state legislation.

In broad outline, the main difference that emerged between the Carter administration and Congress over subsistence was whether it was to be predominantly Native with an emphasis on culture and ethnic heritage, or non-racial and defined more loosely in terms of an Alaskan lifestyle. Congress began with the assumption that it would be predominantly Native, and moved steadily toward the administration's position. This also coincided with the state of Alaska's position, which successfully redefined the subsistence user chiefly in terms of rural residency rather than ethnic origin. In the long run, the most important link between federal Indian policy and ANILCA's subsistence provisions was the elaborate system of local and regional subsistence boards and an overall Subsistence Resources Council that the act endorsed. The boards were to advise state fish and game managers on who was eligible and what level of harvests the resources could sustain. The purpose of the boards was not only to tap the local peoples' wealth of knowledge of natural resources, but also to provide a layer of insulation for the "ecosystem people" from the intrusiveness of the regulatory state. [11]

Congress did not completely purge the Alaska Lands bill of ethnic distinctions, however. In Section 801 of ANILCA, Congress declared that

the continuation of the opportunity for subsistence uses by rural residents of Alaska, including both Natives and non-Natives, on the public lands and by Alaska Natives on Native lands is essential to Native physical, economic, traditional, and cultural existence and to non-Native physical, economic, traditional, and social existence. [12]

By distinguishing between Native cultural existence and non-Native social existence, Congress kept Native subsistence on a distinct basis. The precise legal significance of this has been debated. It appears to indicate, at a minimum, affirmation of the commitment to Native subsistence contained in ANCSA. Whether the wording implies a trust responsibility, as some have contended, is doubtful. When a Native of Togiak, Alaska suggested, during a House subcommittee hearing, that Congress indeed had such a responsibility, Congressman Lloyd Meeds (who was an expert on ANCSA) squelched the idea:

I must in all candor tell you there is no fiduciary relationship or trust responsibility on the part of the Federal or State Government to preserve your subsistence way of life. It's not a fiduciary relationship. It may be a policy. Indeed it is. The policy is written right into ANCSA. [13]

Recently, Sealaska Corporation has asserted that ANILCA's subsistence provisions imply special Native privileges. The corporation's attorneys have alleged that ANILCA does not prohibit subsistence fishing in Glacier Bay National Park, even though it does not expressly authorize it either. [14]

While in recent years Hoonah Tlingits have become keenly interested in recovering access to Glacier Bay for subsistence uses, they were not outspoken on the issue during the D-2 process in the 1970s. Pete Azure, president of the Sitka Community Council, spoke for the people of Hoonah when he told a House subcommittee hearing in Sitka on July 5, 1977: "We ask the subsistence privileges for the people of Hoonah and Glacier Bay which were recently revoked, be restored and guaranteed." [15] This statement appears to have been the only direct mention of subsistence use of Glacier Bay National Monument during the hearings. For the Tlingits generally, the looming issue in the D-2 process was not Glacier Bay but the Tongass National Forest: how much would be designated as wilderness, where would the lines be drawn, and how would it affect the Tlingits' job base and subsistence?

Tlingits and conservationists agreed on the need to slow timber cutting on the Tongass National Forest; subsistence protection and wilderness values coincided better in this land management context than they did in the marine environment of Glacier Bay. The partnership was strained, however. Tlingit-Haida Central Council president John Borbridge, Jr. accused the Department of Agriculture of balancing wilderness acreages and timber jobs on the basis of anticipated timber cutting on Native-owned lands. ANCSA, Borbridge said, had not mandated that Sealaska Corporation use its lands for timber harvests, nor had it expected Native corporations to create replacement jobs for jobs that were lost to wilderness preservation. In effect, Borbridge argued, the Department of Agriculture was trying to concentrate logging activity in southeast Alaska on the Native-owned lands around the Native villages--the very lands that Tlingits used most heavily for subsistence. [16]

It was this conflict--between timber harvesting on the one hand and conservation of fish and wildlife habitat on the other--that prompted the ADF&G to undertake six community subsistence use studies in southeast Alaska in the mid-1980s, ending with a study of Hoonah. The study of Hoonah encompassed subsistence uses on Chichagof and Yakobi islands and the Chilkat Peninsula, mostly in Tongass National Forest, as well as subsistence uses of the mainland north of Icy Strait in Glacier Bay National Park and all the waters in between. The study involved survey interviews with 70 of Hoonah's 280 households in May and June 1986. [17] Later that year, the local subsistence board in Hoonah proposed that the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries issue subsistence use permits for Glacier Bay. [18] Whether the local subsistence board was encouraged to take this action by state officials is unclear. In any case, it was apparent that the recent interest in reopening Glacier Bay to subsistence uses was a direct result of growing pressures on the Hoonah Tlingits' subsistence resource base--from logging, commercial fishermen, and human population growth combined. This situation did not bode well for re-establishing human consumptive uses in the park on a strictly sustainable "future primitive" basis, and NPS officials were understandably wary.

A Renewed Interest in Glacier Bay

In 1987, the NPS joined the village of Hoonah, Sealaska Heritage Foundation, and Glacier Bay Lodge, Inc. in sponsoring the carving of two traditional Tlingit sea otter canoes as a bicentennial celebration of the U.S. Constitution. Skilled artisans carved the first canoe that summer at Bartlett Cove, and the second canoe the following summer in Hoonah, both projects providing "living history" demonstrations over a span of weeks at their respective locations. The canoes were formally dedicated amid traditional singing, dancing, and speeches by village elders. One canoe went on permanent display near the dock at Bartlett Cove, the other at Hoonah High School. [19]

The canoe project demonstrated increasing sensitivity by the NPS to the local Tlingit heritage. What influence, if any, the canoe project had in fostering a renewed interest in subsistence use of Glacier Bay among the people of Hoonah is unclear, although the canoe project did happen to be sandwiched between two proposals by the local subsistence board--the first unsuccessful and the second successful--for the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries to open Glacier Bay to local subsistence use.

Superintendent Tollefson was prepared to oppose Native subsistence use of Glacier Bay when it was first proposed to the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries in 1986. The proposal raised two legal problems: ANILCA (Sections 203 and 816a) does not authorize subsistence harvests of fish, wildlife, and plant resources in Glacier Bay National Park, and the proposal's reference to "state waters" in Glacier Bay contradicted the federal government's claim of ownership. Title to the submerged lands and the supervening water column had remained in the United States after the enactment of the Submerged Lands Act of 1953, which generally ceded ownership of such lands to the states. NPS officials insisted that this title had not passed to the state of Alaska under the Alaska Statehood Act of 1958, as state officials claimed. [20] As it turned out, the Board of Fisheries did not approve the local subsistence board's proposal when it came up for review in January 1987.

Members of the Hoonah Indian Association and the Huna Totem Corporation raised the issue again with reference to the Park Service's environmental impact statement on its wilderness recommendations in September 1988. The EIS made no mention of impacts of wilderness on subsistence use, even though the ban on motorized vessels in wilderness waters would inhibit subsistence use of those waters as well as the land areas surrounding them. Tlingits wanted the NPS to include maps and harvest data in the EIS to reflect existing subsistence use--information that was readily available from the ADF&G's study. Further, they wanted the NPS to consult with clan members in Hoonah about the cultural significance of Glacier Bay to their people, as was required under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. They argued that ANILCA's commitment to Native "cultural existence" (Section 801) reinforced this imperative. [21]

On October 27, the village of Hoonah hosted a public meeting on the EIS. Forty-seven residents of Hoonah attended, as well as chief ranger David Spirtes from the park, Clarence Summers from the regional office's subsistence division, Greg Streveler representing Friends of Glacier Bay, and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) attorney Steve Kallick. Following a potluck featuring native foods, more than twenty Tlingits commented on the EIS, subsistence, and their feelings about the national park generally. Spirtes and Summers responded by explaining that the EIS was narrowly focused on the wilderness recommendation. Afterwards, Spirtes suggested some possible actions to Superintendent Jensen, such as recognizing the Hoonah Tlingits' historical ties to Glacier Bay, exempting them from the vessel permit system under the whale regulations--since they were insulted by the requirement of asking permission to enter Glacier Bay--and allowing them to gill net sockeye. Spirtes opposed making any concession on egg collecting or hunting in the park. [22]

Meanwhile, Acting Regional Director Richard J. Stenmark responded to the Tlingits' demands in a letter to Senator Ted Stevens--five months after receiving a fax of a September 1 letter from the Tlingit-Haida Central Council to Stevens. "There appears to be a belief that all of the Tlingit interests in Glacier Bay should have been addressed in the wilderness EIS and considered and resolved in any wilderness recommendation," Stenmark wrote. "Clearly, the Tlingits are asserting their interests in opening Glacier Bay National Park to subsistence uses." Stenmark reviewed the relevant sections of ANILCA that indicate subsistence use in Glacier Bay National Park is not authorized. Since the Park Service did not recognize subsistence as a legal use of the park, he informed the senator, it saw no reason to include subsistence data in the EIS. [23]

In March 1989, a month after Stenmark had explained the Park Service's firm position against subsistence use of Glacier Bay, the State of Alaska Board of Fisheries determined that the people of Hoonah were entitled to catch salmon in Glacier Bay National Park according to their "customary and traditional use." It also authorized "personal use" fishing in all of southeast Alaska including Glacier Bay. Later, ADF&G commissioner Don W. Collinsworth began issuing subsistence permits to Hoonah residents for Glacier Bay and Excursion Inlet. [24]

Personal-use fishing allows any Alaska resident to take shellfish, finfish, herring, and bottomfish for personal use only--that is, not for barter or sale. It differs from sport fishing in the methods used; for example, gill nets and beach seine nets are typically used for harvesting finfish. It differs from subsistence fishing in that it is open to non-rural Alaskans. Normally, the ADF&G collected escapement data and verified that there was a substantial surplus of fish before authorizing a personal-use fishery; however, in the case of Glacier Bay the ADF&G did not possess this data. As park personnel noted, several streams in the park were only now being colonized by salmonids, and personal-use fishing at these sites "could significantly delay or alter the natural stream development process." Moreover, the fish populations in Glacier Bay were not augmented by hatchery and aqua culture programs as they were in other parts of southeast Alaska. The introduction of non-native stocks was contrary to NPS policy. All of this indicated that personal-use fishing was an inappropriate use of the national park. [25]

As for subsistence fishing, the debate moved quickly from arcane interpretations of ANILCA to the court of public opinion. In late May, Superintendent Jensen requested ADF&G commissioner Collinsworth to cease issuing permits and reiterated the Park Service's position that subsistence use of the park was not authorized under ANILCA. [26] Collinsworth replied that he did not have "discretion" to countermand the earlier decision by the Board of Fisheries; instead, the ADF&G would include a statement with each permit that the NPS "has stated they will issue citations to persons found fishing with subsistence permits within this area." [27] Jensen denied that he had said anything about citing violators; but be that as it were, the situation was quickly escalating toward a test of wills between the NPS on the one hand and the ADF&G and the Tlingits on the other. [28] The ADF&G issued subsistence fishing permits to about 80 families in Hoonah on June 16, and NPS personnel responded by posting boating regulations at various points in the village. Wanda Culp, a member of the Huna Traditional Tribal Council, called the notices an intimidation tactic. [29] SEACC protested that the state and federal governments were dragging "innocent bystanders" into a "turf war."

We think it is terrible to force anyone to sail for Glacier Bay without knowing whether exercise of a traditional right will cost them their fishing gear, their boats, or even their freedom. The situation may disturb officials in their comfortable Anchorage offices, but consider for a moment the impact on men and women of Hoonah who must risk so much to practice the traditions of their culture. [30]

The pro-development Anchorage Times editorialized on the Park Service's "stubbornness" and "impenetrable" decisions in defense of its "fiefdom." The newspaper alleged that the issue was about aesthetics, not fish: "The Park Service people, in their infallible judgment, have decided that Indians on fish boats don't look good on the beautiful waters of Glacier Bay....They despoil the wilderness." It was the editor's judgment that park visitors liked to take home pictures showing local residents at work on their fishing boats. "We're betting on the Indians in this battle," the Times editor wrote. [31]

By mid-July, the Tlingits were planning a ritual Glacier Bay trip. Organizers cut smokehouse wood, made beach seines, and circulated a sign-up sheet; at least 100 people, including elders and children prepared to go. The expedition was to be ferried to Glacier Bay on all ten of Hoonah's seine boats. This "flotilla" would make an all-day round trip from Hoonah to Berg Bay where dancing and songs and a ceremony for the dead were to be followed by berry-picking and fishing for salmon with gaff hooks and seine nets at the mouths of certain salmon streams. [32]

On July 19, Regional Director Boyd Evison telephoned Jensen with a report that the Tlingits were planning a "demonstration" at Glacier Bay the next day. He did not know if this meant carrying placards at Bartlett Cove or coming into the park to fish. Jensen called the ADF&G's Rob Bosworth, who told him a meeting was planned in Hoonah that day to organize a trip using the village's fishing fleet. Bosworth also said that the ADF&G had just announced the opening of a new seining area in southeast waters, and that the boat captains in Hoonah had likely changed their plans to take advantage of the opening. Jensen then called Eli Hanlon of Hoonah, who confirmed that the village's fishing fleet would be heading instead for the new seine opening at Hawk Bay, leaving the subsistence users high and dry. Whether the ADF&G and Hoonah's boat captains had turned away from their imminent confrontation with the Park Service intentionally no one would say, but as a result of this last-minute action the expedition to Glacier Bay was postponed and eventually scrapped. [33]

Afterwards, Jensen and others on the park staff held meetings in Hoonah and talked to some Tlingits individually in an effort to restore good will. In those meetings, Jensen acknowledged the Tlingits' close historical ties to Glacier Bay and encouraged them to visit the park and participate in activities allowed under existing law. Jensen also explained the purposes of Glacier Bay National Park in relation to natural resource management. [34]

On November 2, 1989, Sealaska Corporation sponsored a conference on subsistence at the ANB Hall in Juneau. Representatives from the Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, BIA, BLM, ADF&G, Tlingit-Haida Tribal Council, and shareholders of the southeast Alaska Native village and regional corporations attended. Glacier Bay subsistence topped a list of eight items that participants were asked to come prepared to discuss. Many Tlingits displayed a more militant attitude toward subsistence than they had in the past. The conference resulted in a number of resolutions, including resolutions to establish a subsistence legal defense fund and a southeast subsistence commission to lobby for Tlingit and Haida subsistence rights, and a resolution demanding that ANILCA's Title VIII on subsistence be amended to make it specifically for Natives. [35]

As NPS and ADF&G officials looked for a way to avoid another confrontation over subsistence in Glacier Bay in the coming summer, there was growing speculation about a federal takeover of fish and game management on all federal lands in Alaska. In December 1989, the state Supreme Court decided that the rural resident preference in the state's subsistence law was unconstitutional, but stayed its ruling to allow the state legislature time to enact a new law. However, lawmakers were unable to reach agreement before the session ended on May 8, 1990. [36] No one could foresee when or if the federal takeover would occur, and what it would entail.

That winter and spring, representatives from the NPS, FWS, USFS, BIA, BLM, Army, Air Force, and the state of Alaska worked on an interim federal fish and wildlife management plan that would go into effect on July 1 in the event of a federal takeover. The plan included a specific ban on subsistence use of Glacier Bay National Park. As this plan neared completion in May, Jensen wrote to Collinsworth requesting that the ADF&G refrain from issuing subsistence permits for Glacier Bay that June, as it had the previous June. Collinsworth refused. [37]

Relations between the park and the ADF&G soon deteriorated, as they had one year earlier. After a meeting between Jensen and Collinsworth and their staffs on June 18, the two officials gave widely differing accounts of what had been agreed upon. [38] This did not help the Park Service's efforts to mollify would-be subsistence users. Once again, newspapers focused on whether the NPS would make arrests; the NPS maintained that it would be "lenient in its enforcement" of the new regulation prohibiting subsistence. [39] (There was only one incident during the summer: park rangers apprehended a party of Hoonah Tlingits fishing with a gill net at the mouth of a stream in Berg Bay, the hold of their fishing boat filled with salmon. The Natives claimed that they were fishing for personal use and the rangers issued no citation. But NPS officials worried that subsistence users such as these were capable of fishing out a stream in short order.[40])

The Tlingits now looked for an act of Congress, an amendment to ANILCA covering Glacier Bay National Park, as their best chance to recover subsistence use of the area for the people of Hoonah. The Tlingit-Haida Central Council passed a resolution in favor of such a bill on April 21, 1990. [41] By mid-summer, it was clear that the state of Alaska and the ADF&G did not have the will to sue for state jurisdiction of Glacier Bay, leaving little choice but to lobby for a new law.

The Tlingits were assisted by SEACC, which saw a need and opportunity to protect both subsistence and limited commercial fishing in Glacier Bay at the same time. [42] Friends of Glacier Bay gingerly supported SEACC's position. The Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society vigorously opposed legislation, or concessions in policy to subsistence or commercial fishing. The latter organization's Alaska regional director Allen E. Smith was "deeply troubled" by SEACC's apostasy. "These issues were specifically addressed and decided in ANILCA and cannot now be finessed by some regulatory maneuver or thinly veiled attempt to reinterpret and rewrite history," Smith wrote to SEACC's director. "If your intent is to change the law, you are starting down a very risky path that can threaten the integrity of ANILCA itself and all National Parks, not just those in Alaska." [43]

SEACC organized a citizens' caucus on January 19-20, 1991 in Hoonah. Jensen represented the NPS. Streveler represented Friends of Glacier Bay. There were representatives for Sealaska and Allied Fishermen of Southeast Alaska but none from the Sierra Club or the Wilderness Society, which had refused SEACC's invitation. Surprisingly, no representatives from the governor's office or the Alaska delegation's offices attended either. About 150 people attended the caucus altogether. Emotions ran high; on the first day, several Natives made a very lengthy presentation on the issue of sovereignty for Natives in Alaska (which Jensen characterized as a filibuster) and almost split the caucus in two, with non-Native fishermen and conservationists threatening to walk out and reconvene elsewhere. SEACC leaders finally recovered the podium and went on with the program. On the second day of the caucus, SEACC summarized common positions expressed the previous day and broke up the gathering into work groups to discuss subsistence, commercial fishing, and wilderness designation. [44]

The caucus may have marked the high-water mark for the consensus approach long advocated by SEACC. SEACC's goal was to build a consensus among commercial fishermen, Native subsistence users, and conservationists which would then put pressure on the Alaska delegation to seek a legislative solution in Congress. But the boycott of the caucus by the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club damaged SEACC's credibility. Friends of Glacier Bay supported SEACC in principle, but allowed that it would probably not endorse the specific proposals relating to wilderness that eventually came out of the caucus. The effort at building consensus was further undermined by a lawsuit against the park instigated the previous August by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. The Anchorage-based group had little patience for negotiations; it sought action by the courts to curtail commercial fishing and subsistence use in Glacier Bay and to limit cruise ship entries. (The poorly-conceived lawsuit alleged that the Park Service had transgressed directives contained in the 1979 and 1983 biological opinions and had failed to make an environmental assessment of increased vessel traffic, thereby violating the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Protection Act; it missed the most important point, that the allowance of commercial fishing violated the Redwood National Park Act of 1978. [45]) Alaska Wildlife Alliance v. Jensen et al. was an irritant to the Park Service; it was worse for SEACC and the Tlingits. Friends of Glacier Bay adamantly opposed the lawsuit. "What the suit seems to do to us is raise the stakes and put us at each other's throats at a time when we're close to finding that middle ground," said Streveler. [46] A coalition of southeast Alaska fishing concerns moved quickly to intervene in the lawsuit to protect the interests of fishermen, fish processors, and the local communities. A spokeswoman for Allied Fishermen of Southeast Alaska claimed that without the park fisheries, some fishing villages would be "devastated." Residents of Pelican estimated that forty percent of the fish processed in their village came from Glacier Bay National Park. Hoonah, Gustavus, and Elfin Cove would also be much affected. [47]

The caucus made it clear that the Tlingits still faced an uphill battle in regaining subsistence privileges in Glacier Bay. Once more, the subsistence issue was subsumed by the park's other problems relating to overuse. The lawsuit by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance diverted attention away from consensus-building and back to the strategy of confrontation. Mounting pressures on the park from various sources--fishermen, the cruise ship industry, the Natives, and conservationists--pointed to a three-way race between litigation, legislation, and regulation in settling these rival claims to the park's use or protection.

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Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000