Subsistence: A Meaningful, Ongoing Connection to the Land
For thousands of years Alaska's indigenous people traveled extensively over the landscape, making a living through hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. In modern times, these activities became known collectively as subsistence, and both Alaska Natives and local rural users live off the land, relying on fish, wildlife and other wild resources. Alaska's abundance of natural resources forms the backbone of life and economy for many residents of the state. In Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, local users are busy all year round, with nature's bounty providing sustenance for families living in the surrounding areas.
Subsistence users have a unique connection to the land fostered by tradition and lifelong experience. An anonymous local user described the importance of subsistence this way:
You can't overstate the importance of subsistence to people around here. And people, in all the villages, probably also in some of the cities, are depending on subsistence. People need to have their pride in what they're doing and their lifestyle. And the whole state needs that to have a cultural identity. Because you don't have just an empty land. This has never been an empty land. There were people living here thousands of years ago. This is not a place they can empty out...I just hope that it stays to some degree while I'm alive and afterwards. (Eagle, 2005)
To learn more about the history of the subsistence legislation click here.
Did You Know?
The 1,979 mile long Yukon River flows through Yukon-Charley Rivers for 128 miles at 6-8 mph, to eventually empty into the Bering Sea.