by Jacqueline Dailey
Summer’s Diverse Abundance
Warm summer greetings! In Southeast Alaska, we have been enjoying above average temperatures, much like the rest of the state through this spring and into early summer. While Alaskans welcome the long summer days, we are also cognizant of fire dangers throughout the state from the warm dry spring. Our hearts go out to the many people in the Willow area in Southcentral Alaska who have lost their homes and we are hopeful Alaskans throughout the state are spared further losses.
With summer comes the return of fishing. Alaskans are paying close attention to their local fisheries which sustain so many families and communities throughout the year. According to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (the Run Forecasts and Harvest Projections for 2015 Alaska Salmon Fisheries and Review of the 2014 Season report is available at www.adfg.alaska.gov/fedaidpdfs/sp15-04.pdf), the 2014 commercial salmon harvest for all species totaled 158 million fish, about 25 million more than the preseason forecast of 133 million. The projected commercial salmon catch is expected to be larger in 2015 at 221 million due to the projected increase in pink salmon harvests.
Commercial, personal use, sport, and subsistence fishing – these conjure up different ways and reasons why people fish. For many Alaskans, especially those in rural communities, it is about meeting nutritional needs that make them physically and economically reliant on the resources due to great distance from other food sources and the high costs of obtaining them.
Regardless of where one lives, fish are an important mainstay in the customary and traditional uses of Alaska’s resources. The Alaska Native community’s opportunities for subsistence activities are at the core of cultural identity. Subsistence activities represent the ongoing interconnectedness to the resources of the land and sea and the traditions that were and continue to be passed from generation to generation. These include the continuation of unique local and distinct ways of harvesting, processing, distributing and utilizing fish, animals and plants. Age-old ceremonies celebrate and give thanks for the harvests. The importance of traditional uses of fish and game reflect the values and connections to ancestors’ ways of life. These traditional practices have sustained Alaska’s indigenous peoples including sharing, respect for nature, hard work and working together, and responsibility to family and community.
Frequent fishing activities during the summer months highlight the importance of water safety. In this issue, we have included important information about the uses of personal flotation devices and other information related to water safety. We are pleased to see increased uses of flotation devices as increasingly more Alaskans take heed of the importance and growing body of knowledge about water safety across the state.
This edition’s cover of the current Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics, Chanda Simon of Fairbanks, daughter of RurAL CAP Board member Chris Simon, reminds us of two important summer messages in Alaska: the importance of safety for our children and family when on boats or in the water, and of the WEIO coming up on July 15-18 in Fairbanks. The games played by the participants display the preparedness one needed for survival that require skill, balance, cooperation, strength, agility, and endurance. In the recent past, these games were commonplace during the holiday season and also at gatherings to celebrate successful hunts, rites of passage, trading, etc. There was also feasting, dancing, and storytelling that provided an opportunity for friendly competition and entertainment where friendships were built and renewed. Participants will be awed by games and events including the one and two-foot high kick, knuckle hop, four man carry, ear weight, ear pull, one-hand reach, blanket toss, kneel jump, Indian and Eskimo stick pull, toe kick, Indian and Eskimo dance groups, Miss WEIO contest, and arts and crafts sales.
There’s so much to do and enjoy in our short summer season; on behalf of the Board and staff at RurAL CAP, we send our warmest wishes for a bountiful and safe summer to all!