Sealaska believes the Supreme Court has taken positive steps to recognize the subsistence rights promised under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The promise of subsistence was part of a contract with Natives and rural residents contained within the massive land settlements for conservation, Native entitlement and allocation of lands for economic development. Sealaska Board of Directors, particularly Director Worl and Chair Kookesh, have been at the forefront with Alaska Federation of Natives to protect Native subsistence rights. Dr. Worl, who chairs the AFN Subsistence Committee, noted that with wide public support of subsistence the state should move forward to resolve the subsistence issue and work with the Native community and federal government on developing sound management regimes.
The Alaska Attorney General and the Governor’s decision to appeal the Katie John case was divisive. If the State’s appeal were successful, the contracts between the Government and Natives to settle indigenous land claims would have been breached and would have thrown all the agreements of ANILCA and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) into turmoil. “This is an important decision,” said Ed Thomas, President of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Thomas, who also serves as a Sealaska director says, “I hope we will now look at ways we can work cooperatively with the state on resource management that will be fair to subsistence users and minimize harassment wherever we can.”
Click here to read the US Supreme Court decision
Click here to read the Alaska petition