Saxman Regains Rural Status

Saxman Totem Park and Clan House. Shared via KRBD-Ketchikan.
Saxman Totem Park and Clan House. Shared via KRBD-Ketchikan.

The Organized Village of Saxman is now officially rural again.

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The Federal Subsistence Board voted during a work session Tuesday in Anchorage to return communities to the status they held before 2007. That’s the year the board decided to make Saxman non-rural, an action that Saxman residents and other Native leaders have fought against ever since.

Theo Matuskowitz works for the Office of Subsistence Management in Anchorage. He says the board took three actions yesterday (Tuesday) related to rural determination.

The first adopted a proposed rule that simplifies the rural-determination review process. The third action starts the ball rolling on options for determining communities’ rural statuses in the future.

The middle action is the one that makes an immediate difference to Saxman.

“They decided to go back to the pre-2007 final rule. Because, basically, everyone seemed pretty happy with the non-rural determinations there. It was after the 2007 final rule that people expressed unahappiness with their action. So, by the board deciding to go back to the pre-2007 rule, this makes Saxman rural once again.”

Matuskowitz says there are still some administrative actions that need to be taken before the action is published, but Tuesday’s vote makes it official.

Rural status for an Alaska Native community allows residents to subsistence hunt, fish and gather traditional foods and other materials.