Subsistence and Traditional Use of the Land

a person stands on the bow of a boat pulling up a fishing gill net with one fish in it
Hunting, fishing, and use of animal products acquired through traditional means remain centerpieces of what it means to live in rural Alaskan communities today.

NPS/D. Khalsa


"[My grandparents said] the game and animals will be alive and good. It’s just the people that are going to have to show them RESPECT. And let them know don’t kill too much so there’ll be more for later; Learn to live off the land and learn to kill what you eat only...And teach our kids how to hunt and skin and live off the land because if you don’t teach them that and you get old...there’s nobody going to be around to provide for you." –Clarence Delkettie, in "Respect the Land, It's Like Part of Us"

red salmon dry on an indoor fish rack inside a smokehouse with sunlight
Ye’uh qach’dalts’iyi ('What we live on from the outdoors') encompasses spirituality, language, history, traditions, and the foundation of the Dena’ina people.

NPS/T. Vaughn

Ye’uh Qach’dalts’iyi

'What We Live On from the Outdoors'

For many generations the Dena’ina people have passed down the values and techniques necessary to sustain their culture and way of life. To this day, Dena’ina people continue to lead lives which are tied inextricably to this place. The traditional knowledge passed down by generations of elders comes from a communal understanding of this ecosystem, a commitment to core values and beliefs, and a constant ability to creatively solve problems using only what is available in such a remote place.

The phrase Ye’uh qach’dalts’iyi means 'what we live on from the outdoors.' It refers to traditional knowledge about harvesting animals, plants, and fish which has been passed down through time. It also refers to the many other ways Dena’ina people interact with their landscape. In Dena’ina traditions, all things are connected. Ye’uh qach’dalts’iyi encompasses spirituality, language, history, traditions, and the foundation of the Dena’ina people.

"that’s something that has to be taught to everyone… like especially younger generations.They have to understand that when you go hunting or anything, we’re using something from the land. You have to have respect for it.” –Randy Kakaruk, in "Respect the Land, It's Like Part of Us"

A Dena'ina man holds a metal animal trap in front of a group of people wearing parkas in the snow
Subsistence is more than sustenance, it sustains both the physical and spiritual cultures of modern Alaskans.

Photo courtesy K. Evanoff

Lake Clark's abundance of natural resources are the backbone of life and economy for people in Southwest Alaska.

Today, as in the past, many Alaskans live off the land, relying on fish, wildlife, and other wild resources. Subsistence, and all it entails, is critical to sustaining both the physical and spiritual culture of modern Alaskans.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve was created in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which also provided for continued subsistence use of the park by local residents. Today people continue to use the area's rich resources in traditional ways.

ANILCA stipulates that local rural people may continue subsistence practices on federal lands, including the park and preserve. Subsistence Resource Councils made up of local residents advise National Park Service staff on policy development and implementation.

The National Park Service coordinates with other agencies and Regional Advisory Councils from across the state in federal subsistence management. Learn more about subsistence use throughout national parks in Alaska.

Fish fillets sit on a wooden board
Subsistence: The Ethics of Taking

Discover how inland Dena'ina people sustainably live off the land.

A hunter reaches holds a rifle while travelling in a boat
Subsistence: Hunting and Trapping

Scope out more on the traditional hunting and trapping methods of inland Dena'ina people.

a blue bucket holds four harvested salmon
Subsistence: Fishing and Fish Camps

Explore the cultural tradition of fishing for salmon at fish camps.

a hand reaches to pick a blueberry off a bush
Subsistence: Plant Harvesting

Harvest more knowledge on the traditional use of local plants.

sockeye salmon hanging on a fish rack
Kvichak Subsistence Ethnographic Study

How families in Iliamna, Newhalen, Nondalton, and Port Alsworth of Bristol Bay's Kvichak District make decisions about subsistence fishing,

Lake Clark at sunset
Respect the Land—It's Like Part of Us

Just published! A Traditional Use Study of Inland Dena'ina Ties to the Chulitna River and Sixmile Lake Basins.

Last updated: February 28, 2020

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