Southeast Native leaders continue pushing to keep Saxman’s status as a subsistence community.
Alaska’s Federal Subsistence Board removed the status about six years ago, saying the town of about 500 was too closely linked to the city of Ketchikan, which is not a subsistence community. That could reduce fish and deer bag limits in times of scarce resources.
The board has since agreed to continue subsistence status while the issue is reconsidered.
Tlingit-Haida Central Council President Ed Thomas testified in support of Saxman during the recent subsistence board meeting in Juneau.
“People in Saxman have relied on subsistence resources since the beginning of time. And the road connecting them to Ketchikan really does not take away that dependence,” Thomas said.
Bert Adams, chairman of the Southeast Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council, also stated his group’s support.
The board has taken up the issue during the past year. Peter Probasco, of the federal Office of Subsistence Management, said a decision will be made within two years.
The central council’s Thomas urged the board to side with Saxman.
“I hope that as you deliberate about that kind of issue and the importance of subsistence to a rural community, keep in mind that in the true sense of the term, Saxman is rural,” Thomas said. “I think that it’s important for people in that community to get a fair judgment on the need for subsistence based on the merit of subsistence, as opposed to whether or not they get along with people in Ketchikan.”
Several other communities are in a similar situation. Federal officials said a decision on Saxman could apply to other parts of Alaska.