Report: Ketchikan Native Community Requesting More Federal Subsistence Opportunities

From Alaska Public Media comes this story on Ketchikan’s tribal residents asking for more federal subsistence opportunities, which these Southeast Alaskans have been barred from participation:

Trixie Bennett, the president of Ketchikan’s tribe, said the push to designate Ketchikan as a rural community is a major step toward the tribe’s goal of food sovereignty.

“Our food is our way of life,” Bennett said. “Our food is the medicine, our culture is the medicine.”

If Ketchikan were classified as rural, all residents — Native and non-Native — would be federally qualified subsistence hunters. That means they’d be able to hunt and fish on federal lands and harvest subsistence species, like ooligan from the Unuk River. And wildlife officials would be required to prioritize the needs of Ketchikan’s subsistence users over commercial and sport fishermen.

“We want this better access to our healthier foods around here and not just for us, but for everyone on the island,” Bennett said.