AFN Officials Revisit Subsistence Issues

Officials with the Alaska Federation of Natives gathered today in Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel on a teleconference to denounce the state’s lawsuit.

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Newly elected AFN co-chair Tara Sweeney said subsistence defines Alaska Native people and she said, no one has the right to take that away.

“The latest action by the state of Alaska is an assault on the people of Alaska who depend upon hunting, fishing and gathering to feed their families,” Sweeney said.

AFN President Julie Kitka gave a brief history of the complicated case. Kitka said for decades, AFN has attempted to work with state administrations, congress and in court. She said Native leaders expected the first Katie John case to resolve the federal lands and waters management issue.

“Unfortunately the state has continued to fight implementation of that decision,” Kitka said.

Kitka said AFN has been involved in the litigation for more than 18 years and will continue to intervene on the side of the federal government while working toward a Congressional fix.

Rosita Worl is the chairwoman of AFN’s subsistence committee. She said she wanted to be clear about three main things: That AFN will continue the fight to protect subsistence in this case and any others that compromise those rights that although they have tried for two decades to work on a legislative or congressional fix, the state has refused to participate in a viable solution.

“The state of Alaska attempted overreach is a reckless attempt to unravel the precedents set by the lower courts and through administrative procedures,” Worls said. “This should enrage not only the Native community but all Alaskans.”

“Too much time, energy and precious funding has been wasted in the state’s ongoing attacks on subsistence. Enough is enough.”

Kitka and Worl both reiterated that the state could regain subsistence management of federal lands if it came into compliance with ANILCA.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori