Land Use Planning


"When I was growing up, we didn't know any white people, and all the food we had was from the land," recalls Alena Nikolas, thinking about the changes she has seen over the 90 some years she has lived. "We would go out in a canoe and go fishing and never waste any part of it. Everything we used for hunting and fishing was made by the people. The women would go berry picking with their back packs, and their buckets were made from bark. I was raised by my grandfather in the traditions of our cultural background. The land that our ancestors walked on, they were the first ones to walk on it. And they were the first ones who lived quietly.

"Now that we are beginning to hear about the land claims there is a lot of comments going on because we have a lot of questions. In my time there weren't such things as land claims or regulations, or land planning commissions. In my time people lived happily together. There were no problems such as we are putting up with now... People lived together and there weren't such things as planning things. Everybody planned together. Nobody would come around and say this is my land, that is your land. These lands were everybody's. People weren't coming in and saying you do this, you use the land for this, you use the river for this. These little lines and areas drawn up on the map by so and so—there weren't such things as those. People were happy then."1

During the time Alena Nikolas was growing up there was no need for land use planning to protect subsistence resources.

Before the Claims Act, before statehood and the coming of the first Russians, the people who were scattered over the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta followed a natural pattern of land use which did not require any land use planning to avoid problems. Rules, policies and regulations were not necessary because people knew how to work together and take care of the land. The only laws people had to observe were the laws of nature as the hunters followed the migrations of fish and game through changing weather and the passing of seasons.

"The geese and ducks, and salmon, and moose don't check the land office in Anchorage to see whose land they are on."

When the idea of land ownership was introduced the freedom of the Yupik people to use the land became threatened. Because people of Western civilization do not know how to naturally work together and take care of the land they have made many laws to govern what people can do and what they can't do. Imposing these laws and patterns of ownership on the people of the Delta has created great confusion and fear among the people. Many are afraid that they will no longer have the freedom to live from the land and take care of it as their ancestors once did. David Bayayak, Mayor of Togiak, speaks of this danger:

"I'm going to speak for the older generation way before this generation came along. The older generation had used the animal for surviving. They used the carcass for food and the skin for clothing. Anywhere they walked, they stepped on the land, they had respect for the land. They had great honor for the land. As far as we know, this generation has the same thought for the animals and they use it for subsistence... I can see people just like I am right now, young men ranging from age 20 to 35, who will still be hunting beaver unless the beaver pelt is restricted by the warden or the people in Congress, just like they have done to seal, the sea mammals. We use this meat for food. And I believe these things will be taken away from us as the pressure keeps on going high. The younger generation will have respect for the land anywhere they go, just like the older ones. They go up river where people have lived long ago and hunt. I believe if we quit eating this food, fresh food, like fish, moose meat, squirrel, I think this people— Yupiks—are going to get sick. And I believe it—And I see that Eskimo is not used to the way of living with book works and papers. And he can use, a Yupik can use from his place, can use that (land) to release himself from the pressure. I stress that if we're given this freedom to step on this land without any papers to sign... I believe that Congress will really care for us. This is a D2 (land set aside for a wildlife refuge), and by native instinct I think they will still want to walk on it just like the older generations did. And this is our home. I do not mean to be rude. This is our home. Now its like a house for us. My father was a man and there was this house of mine. Then a person from outside, unknown, comes here to my area and he comes in through the door and says ‘come into my house and says, hey man, you cannot do this and that.' And I wonder what this person's reaction would be. It just like that for the Yupik People in this area.

"I do not mean to be rude, (but) this is our home. (And yet) a person from outside, unknown, comes here to say, ‘Hey man, you cannot do this and that.'

"It's just like that to the older generation. It's just like a person coming in and telling us what to do and what not to do. I think it would be nice if we had maybe more years to have freedom to walk on the land, like freedom to walk without any restrictions for a period of time. If these needs are not met, I want to say first that the Yupik people are going to be controlled. They are gonna be controlled by this white man way. Second, our land's gonna be taken away. And last, then we will be like the white man. Our culture will be doomed. If we don't have freedom on this land, our wish and our hope will be in vain."1

Today the village person's ability to subsist from the land and thereby continue the way of life of his ancestors is subject to a complicated patchwork of ownership, laws, regulations and government jurisdiction. Both the Alaska Statehood Act and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act have established a pattern of land ownership in Alaska in which there are three main land owners and managers—the State of Alaska, the Federal government and the Native village and regional corporations. The ownership of the land has been broken into many small pieces that fit together something like a jigsaw puzzle.

"The land that our ancestors walked on, they were the first ones to walk on it. And they were the first ones who lived quietly."

But the land itself is not broken into pieces. And the villagers' use of the land cannot be broken into pieces if his way of life is to continue. The mountains and coast run through the different pieces of ownership. The rivers flow through the various pieces of the ownership puzzle. The fish and game migrate from one area to another. The geese and ducks, and salmon, and moose don't live by the boundaries. They don't check the land office in Anchorage to see whose land they are on. And as the fish and game move through the whole land, so the hunter must be able to move through the whole land if he is to survive.

Speaking to the problems created by boundaries being imposed upon people who have always lived without maps and boundary lines, Fred Notti, a Calista board member, posed these thoughts to the Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission in 1973.

"What are the potential effects of new ownership patterns on traditional land uses? How can land and resources be managed so that new ownership patterns accommodate traditional land uses?
"Like the Northern Eskimo, Athabaskan, and Tlingit, I believe that the Yupik will become boundary conscious. They never had to move for their food before; now an overpowering mass of humanity is closing in on them.

"Learning about boundaries and how to cope with them is going to be a difficult thing to teach and even more difficult to learn.

"When people begin posting signs—no hunting, no fishing, no trespassing, no wood cutting, etc. —and begin to find themselves inadvertently hauled before the bench to answer these charges, whom will the blame fall upon?"

Since the land has been broken into little pieces of ownership, it has become important for the different land owners to work together to protect the fish and game and provide the hunter the freedom he needs.

Today it is necessary to use the tools of land use planning. Villagers must testify to planning commissions and Congressional committees. Regional planners and legislators must enact new laws and utilize existing ones to protect land use values. The regional corporation, Calista uses information gathered from satellites in a computerized system of resource analysis in order to assess resource potentials.

But modern land use planning tools are only as useful as the way in which they are used. They can be used carelessly and result in the loss of land values and land use opportunities, as many areas in the United States have vividly illustrated. We need a land use planning process which is oriented to the particular values and needs of this region. This process must be used to re-establish the type of balance and opportunities with the land that existed in former times—before the problems created by drawing lines around pieces of land and calling some mine and others yours.

"The State must make all land use planning decisions with an eye to keeping the options open for the subsistence way of life."

William Tyson has spoken of the basic Yupik relationship to the land and among people which needs to be re-affirmed and re-instituted in the land use planning process:

"To my way of thinking, subsistence is pretty much living off the land as much as we can. That's about all I know because I don't know of any other way of making a living besides living off the land and working together with my neighbors, working side by side.

nets"To my way of thinking subsistence is living off the land... working together with my neighbors, working side by side."

"If we see somebody to help, we go down and help him. We work side by side and we don't have no conflict with other villages.
"There were some years where some uneasiness was going on, where somebody gets more than I got, I feel kind of cheated, but I just can't help it...

"Sometime back, at home, there was a lot of berries growing around the houses and there used to be some woman coming up and pick berries right outside of our house. My wife would open that door and say, ‘Hey, the coffee is good, won't you come in and have some coffee with me?' The woman who picked berries right outside of my house would come into my house and have coffee with my wife in the house. That was before we got cautious.

"Then, after we were told that we had to have a boundary around our property, then anybody comes and tells us, that one is trespassing and I can do as I please with him. Okay. I'm not helping him no more, just driving him away.

"That is not preserving the land the way it should be.

"The land will provide for us the amount we need. We don't have to bother the land. It's everything growing there as long as we leave it alone. There's a lot of fish in the lakes as long as we leave the other ones, just take enough for the amount that we need. The same way with the birds or anything. All we do is just take the amount we need and leave the rest of them there. Next year we'll have just that much.

"But, if we start fooling around with that, there is going to be something missing
next year. A lot of that will be missing.

"That's about the only thing I can say how we live. Subsistence is working side by side and leave the land alone, leave it grow—just let it stay the way it wants to be. So we'll have everything that the land produced in every way."2

If subsistence is going to be able to continue as a way of life, a lot of people will have to be working side by side in managing the land. Villagers must be working side by side with other villages and their regional corporation. And the State and Federal governments will have to find new ways to work side by side with village people in what is now called the land use planning process.

"There's a lot of fish in the lakes as long as we just take enough for the amount that we need. The same way with the birds or anything."

Communication and the Involvement of People

"There was no word or any kind of warning. It seemed like this village was sleeping overnight—one night—and then they woke up next morning and they find out that the musk ox is available here on this island. And they had no idea who was doing it. And when this was realized, the Fish and Wildlife Service said they were doing it and that someday the musk ox are going to help us. And when this was said, it was out of reach of the Natives' minds. Because it was still the practice of not involving us... there was still neglect in it. It seemed like we do not exist. We have no rights.
"...It would be a great help if some of those heads-shot people would come around to see for themselves, to see what it is like to live out here, to see what it is like to carry out their orders."
An unidentified older man speaking to the Federal State Land Use Planning
Commission, Tununak, 1973

This man from Tununak had no college degrees and talked only in Yupik. But he spoke of what so many planners and developers seem to forget or not understand. All the people affected by a land decision should know what is happening, what decisions are being made. The people who live on the land must be involved in deciding what happens to it.

Communication is the first responsibility of land use planning. It is also the element that has been most often lacking in planning for land or anything else in our region.

In the past white men and their governments have never offered to involve the Yupik people in decisions concerning the land that has been theirs since time immemorial. When Russia claimed Alaska as its territory, the Yupik people were not involved. When Alaska became a state, the Yupik people were not involved. When large wildlife refuges were established on the Delta, the Yupik people were not involved. When fish and game regulations were formulated, the Yupik people were not involved. Even when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed, the Yupik people were not involved; many villagers did not even know their land claims were being settled.

When the local village people have not been involved, many mistakes have been made that could have been avoided. And people on the Delta have naturally become suspicious and resentful of those who try to make decisions about the region from far away. As that man in Tununak put it:

"The first time when the land withdrawals were conducted by the Fish and Wildlife, the time when they were marking off land without consent of the people, without asking the people how the land was used within the area. When this was done it was a great mistake on the Fish and Wildlife side. Due to this mistake, there's gonna be a lot of difficulties in the way of fixing this and that so it will be agreeable... Fish and Wildlife neglected the mind of the people. And they put us to a point where we think that they thought there were no people existing in that area. Due to this mistake, a lot of minds are mad today, real mad, because someone tried to take the land that we have used and try to make it into other uses that we don't want. Due to that mistake, we are all working very hard on our part, and on your side. This is the result of that mistake, that so many meetings have to go on from time to time, and so many changes have to be made because of that first mistake."

"When Russia claimed Alaska as its territory, the Yupik people were not involved. When the United States bought Alaska, the Yupik people were not involved. When Alaska became a state, the Yupik people were not involved. When large wildlife refuges were established on the Delta, the Yupik people were not involved. When fish and game regulations were formulated, the Yupik people were not involved. Even when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed, the Yupik people were not involved; many villagers did not even know their land claims were being settled."

To avoid unnecessary mistakes and resentments in land use planning decisions, government policy makers must make greater efforts to involve local people with these thoughts in mind.

  1. Information about a land issue must be well prepared and communicated to the people so they will know the issues. In our region translation is usually necessary to insure that people understand. Information should be presented in the ways that will be most easily grasped by the people in the villages.
  2. When important land decisions are to be made, extensive hearings should be held in the villages to receive the suggestions and feelings of the local people.
  3. Recognizing the difficult communication and transportation situation in this region, agencies dealing with land and resource issues in our region must budget enough funds to get out into the villages to develop two way communication on the issues.

Management Agreement

To begin a process of communication between the people and the Fish and Wildlife Service which could lead to cooperative planning and management, Yupiktak Bista proposed a joint management agreement in 1973. For over a year it was discussed in the villages and in Washington, D.C. Some of the feelings of the village people were expressed by Bartholomew Agathluk speaking to representatives of the Land Use Planning Commission in Emmonak. He said:

"First of all, I'd like to thank the Commission for giving us a chance to express ourselves and say what our ideas are. Now, my concern is a National Wildlife Refuge. That will be my main topic. And under that would be a management agreement. In order for me to start off with my topic, I think I should give a little example. That way I think I will make myself understood and you will be able to understand what I have in mind to say... You know, in every home there's a management. Otherwise, if we don't have a management, there's going to be a conflict. Like, talking about management at home, I as a husband I like to manage everything in the house, you know. But then on the other hand, my wife would like to do some little managing also. So what we do, the only way we can solve the problem is have a management agreement within the house. Now supposing that my wife says she wants to let my little boy eat, you know, lots, and I say to my wife, no I don't like that, he eats too much, I think he's going to have you know, he'll grow chubby. So my wife and I would say, let's make a little compromise, management agreement. Let's say that, you know, we let him eat, you know, not too much and not too little. . . Since we're both managing the house, we would have to make some kind of a management agreement. Well, she would have to tell me her view and I would have to tell her my views, in order to avoid a conflict."

"Okay, now let's talk about this D2, the green stuff here (the land that is being considered for a wildlife refuge), Now, I think. I kind of like this National Wildlife System, for the simple fact that, you know, all of us would like to go out hunting. I like to go out hunting. Now let's take this portion (of the map) here. There is a green, green portion right in between Emmonak and the upriver... I know its mainly for fishing, in summertime for commercial (fishing) and also for the camps, summer camps. Now around this area is a hunting ground, like up the Andreafsky River. Most people go up the river and hunt around for moose, bear, or whatever's up there. I'd kind of like to see this green portion of the map become what is known as the National Wildlife Refuge, with the management agreement. Well supposing this portion is managed by Fish and Wildlife Service, and we don't have any part in it. I don't think we'll be able to hunt. You know, there is going to be conflict there. Well, supposing whoever's managing that refuge says that we cannot hunt or kill moose, but we want moose. Okay, there's going to have to be some kind of agreement there. Well, maybe they're right, maybe we're wrong. In order to find out what the problem is, we have to understand—in order to come to a final agreement. That's what I mean by management agreement, if. this area becomes a national wildlife refuge. And I'd like to see the Native people as part of the management agreement."1

"We think that they thought there were no people existing in that area."

And Axel Johnson, also of Emmonak, has spoken of the need for a management in relation to the lands which are in between village selections. He has said:

"We can select just so much land. But we may not be able to select all this land. And it's that land we cannot select that's within this area. We should tell them how we would like to see.., that handled. This is one big question in our minds. Mountain Village can go down just so far in their selection. And we can go up just so far (from Emmonak). We find that there is going to be a gap. And that is something that is bothering us.

"We would like that land turned over to refuge. But before we do that, we'd like to have some control and management. We'd like to be able to say something (about that land)."1


Even though in the beginning there was great bitterness between the people and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the great need for the people and their village and regional corporations to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service developed in the form of the cooperative management agreement. After long negotiations, the agreement was signed in April 1974 by the Association of Village Council Presidents, Calista Corporation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agreement defines their mutual interests and responsibilities as follows:


THIS COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT, made and entered into this twenty-fourth day of April, 1974, by and between the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), Calista Corporation (CALISTA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of the Interior, WITNESSETH:

WHEREAS, AVCP, on behalf of regional Native villages, is vitally concerned with the conservation of fish and wildlife resources and maintenance of all other water and land resources essential to sustaining life and maintaining the culture of Native people.

WHEREAS, the USFWS, as authorized by Section 4 of the Act of October 15, 1966, 80 Stat. 669 (16 USC 668dd) is responsible for administration and management of fish and wildlife habitat, land, and other natural resources of the Clarence Rhode National Wildlife Range and the Cape Newenham, Nunivak, and Hazen Bay National Wildlife Refuges, which includes maintaining good habitat conditions for fish and wildlife and proper use of the land in concert with other recognized uses and users of the land.

WHEREAS, it is the mutual desire of AVCP, the Calista Corporation, and USFWS to recognize their responsibility for lands withdrawn from the range or refuges of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta under provisions of ANCSA and also to recognize their mutual concern but separate responsibilities for managing other regional resources in the best interests of the people of the Delta, State of Alaska, and the United States.

WHEREAS, it is understood by the parties hereto that Calista has conducted hearings preliminarily to drafting a first draft of rules and regulations that will ultimately govern the use and development of Native lands selected by village corporations within the above refuges.


  1. To recognize Native people residing in or adjacent to the above refuges range as being dependent upon animal and plant resources and the need to give high priority to protecting subsistence needs essential to sustaining and maintaining the Native lifestyle and/or culture.
  2. To consult with all Calista, AVCP and village corporations within the region on the formulation of any refuge regulation involving hunting, fishing, trapping, or any other public uses affecting Native people.
  3. To recognize village corporations as being jointly responsible for managing habitat or lands selected and patented from the range or refuges in accordance with provisions of ANCSA.
  4. To make or sanction no plant or animal introduction on refuge or range lands until there has been an investigation of its effect on other resources and a consideration of its desirability as a management measure.
  5. To furnish AVCP and the Calista Corporation with copies of various reports, plans, correspondence, and material prepared by the USFWS pertinent to fish and wildlife management or refuges or the range and relating to this Agreement. These will include special reports, plans, and recommendations for any regulatory changes deemed necessary to protect fish and wildlife habitat.


  1. To establish an advisory council composed of village representatives that will be available to advise, make recommendations and review refuge management plans and proposed regulations governing uses and users of refuge and range lands.
  2. To recognize the USFWS as the agency responsible for the management of all refuge and range lands of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
  3. That with the approval of village corporations, the USFWS will be permitted access to Native lands for the purpose of making studies or investigations designed to improve fish and wildlife management programs on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
  4. To keep the USFWS informed of plans for road construction, reindeer grazing, or other developmental activities affecting the region's fish and wildlife resources.
  5. To cooperate with the USFWS in the development and implementation of conservation programs designed to benefit the regional fish and wildlife resources.


  1. That all questions pertaining to cooperative work of the three parties arising in the field will be first resolved by the Advisory Council and Refuge Manager-in-charge, and matters of disagreement that cannot be resolved at equivalent levels will be referred to the Alaska Area Director of the USFWS and Directors of AVCP and Calista for final decision.
  2. To meet at least once annually or more often, if necessary, to discuss matters of mutual concern relating to subjects relevant to this management agreement.
  3. To enter into supplemental agreements for the development of land-use plans and programs designed to improve the socio-economic status of and to benefit the people of the region and also to improve and develop the fish and wildlife resources of the region.
  4. To take appropriate action in conformity with Federal and State laws which is necessary for the protection of the subsistence needs of the Native people. To consult with one another, to evaluate the supply of fish and animals and needs measured by (a) degree of dependence, (b) residency, and (c) means of taking.
  5. In compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity laws and regulations, education-training programs leading to professional employment of Natives in the wildlife management field will be coordinated with appropriate agencies and implemented as soon as feasible.
  6. That nothing in this Agreement shall make or obligate the USFWS, AVCP or Calista to expend any of their respective funds. USFWS shall not be obligated for future payment of money in excess of appropriations authorized by law.
  7. That this Agreement shall become effective as soon as it is signed by parties hereto and shall continue in force for five years unless either party upon thirty (30) days notice indicates in writing the intention to terminate upon a date indicated.
  8. That six (6) months prior to the termination date of this agreement, all parties will review its provisions so as to mutually develop, if desired, a new agreement with whatever modifications are agreed upon.
  9. That amendments to this Agreement may be proposed by either party and shall become effective upon written approval of the other parties.
  10. That each and every provision of this Agreement and subsidiary agreements developed under its guidelines is subject to the laws of the United States and the State of Alaska.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement as of the date first written.

Association of Village Council Presidents                                       United States Fish and Wildlife Service
By /s/
Edward Hoffman, Sr.                                                                   By /s/ Gordon W. Watson
 Director, AVCP                                                                                          Alaska Area Director, USFWS

Calista Corporation
By /s/ Raymond C. Christiansen
Its President


The cooperative management agreement is really only a beginning. It simply provides an opportunity for the government, the regional corporation and the village people to participate in the type of land use planning that has become necessary to protect the subsistence resources of the Yukon-Kuskokwin Delta.

As the region develops and the land ownership becomes more complicated with more State and private ownership, management agreements can provide a helpful context for planning. In some cases, a planning authority that would bind the various parties to certain land use agreements could be developed to accomplish the kind of coordinated planning that is becoming necessary.

Environmental Evaluation

Another land use planning tool available to the people through the Federal government is the Environmental Policy Act of 1969 which requires that before any developments are made on public lands a thorough evaluation must be made of all the possible side effects. Studies have to be made to determine if a proposed use of land would have any detrimental effects on the fish and game or on the economy and way of life of the people. For example, many oil companies have expressed interest in exploring for oil on the Delta. If they are to develop oil on Federal Wildlife Refuge lands the Federal government must prepare an environmental impact statement which clearly defines such things as how pollution might affect waterfowl, how increased numbers of people in the region would affect the villages, how the economy would be affected. With such information the people are in a better position to decide whether this kind of development is desired.

Although the Federal lands are protected by this law which enables the people to obtain knowledge of what they are getting into, neither of the other two major land owners—the State and the Native corporations—have such laws or policies to help protect the people.

The State of Alaska should enact a State Environmental Policy Act to avoid unexpected problems from development of State lands. Likewise, village and regional corporations should consider setting up a similar procedure of evaluating potential. They should have a way to require a developer—Native or non-Native—to investigate and clearly state all of the possible effects of the proposed development.

State Land Use Planning Responsibilities

The State of Alaska must assume its responsibility in the cooperative management of land to protect subsistence resources. Although the State has neither an environmental protection act or a wildlife refuge system to manage, the State is a major land owner with broad authority to manage and control the use of land in Alaska. However, this authority has never been used to protect subsistence resources because the State has yet to make a basic commitment to subsistence uses of the land.

Through the years, many legislators and administration officials have spoken of their great concern for protecting the subsistence hunting and fishing of the Native people. But nothing has ever come of it. A policy giving priority to subsistence uses has never been established. Laws establishing subsistence use areas have never been passed. And with all the funds that have been spent on analysis and development of other resources, the State has yet to make an effort to obtain basic subsistence-use information, except for ADF&G summer subsistence fish surveys.

State Senator John Sackett from the Tanana Chiefs Region has come up against this "outward support" for subsistence uses which seems to be a reluctance to take the necessary steps to really protect these activities. After trying for nearly two years to pass a bill that would have established subsistence use priority around villages he said he had heard all kinds of comments of concern about the subsistence problem "and that it was a priority need and they had the support of all the administration in this area. And I'd just like to say that's just a lot of lip service, and that's about it. I spent a year and a half fighting for a method by which to try and take care of this problem and little or no help ever came from the administration, in absolutely no direction whatsoever.. . If we assume that the person who has to live off the land must have the priority need, then the question becomes: How do we solve this problem of prioritizing. I hope people will think.. . about the possible structures in State law that are needed in order to one: give priority to subsistence uses, and two: protect the person once he has that priority."

The first step which the State must take is for the legislature to set out a policy and statutory guidelines that would direct various State Departments to protect subsistence uses. Once this basic commitment has been made, there are several land use approaches that State agencies could take in managing for subsistence uses.

  1. Control of Access and Use of State Lands. The State of Alaska will own 103 million acres of land which it is now in the process of selecting. Much of this land has been used either directly for subsistence hunting and fishing or indirectly by providing habitat for fish and game populations. State land adjacent to villages or which is otherwise important for subsistence resources could be classified for the purpose of protecting fish and game habitat. Developments adverse to these subsistence resources could be discouraged. The sale or leasing of small recreational sites (such as the open to entry program) could be curtailed in areas where extra hunting and fishing would make it more difficult for the local people to subsist from the land. Recreational uses in conflict with subsistence uses could also be minimized by limiting use of motorized vehicles and airplanes, which are used primarily by the recreational hunters and fishermen.

"The sale or leasing of small recreational sites (such as the open to entry program) should be curtailed in areas where extra hunting and fishing would make it more difficult for the local people to subsist from the land."

  1. The State's Zoning Powers for Private Land. The State and regional and municipal governments as well, can zone private lands to prevent any land uses that would disturb habitat through such things as pollution or disruption of a watershed.
  2. The State's Role in Long Range Land Use Planning. The State will play a major role in the sweeping land use planning decisions that will set the patterns of development and population distribution through the State in the future. If the State is going to accept its responsibility to the subsistence users of the rural areas, it must make all land use planning decisions with an eye to keeping the options open for the subsistence way of life. These decisions will involve the placing of roads, the development of public transportation, the sale and leasing of State lands, cooperative management systems with Federal and private land managers.
  3. A State Environmental Policy Act. As already discussed, the State should enact legislation similar to the National Environmental Policy Act which will assure a thorough appraisal of all developments and major actions relating to State lands.
  4. Funding of State Agencies. State agencies which relate to subsistence land uses should receive adequate funding to handle their respective subsistence responsibilities. The Department of Community and Regional Affairs should have the resources to assist regions and villages in the process of planning for subsistence uses. The Department of Fish and Game should have the staff and program arrangements to work closely with the rural people in managing subsistence resources, to undertake subsistence related research, to assist in the reestablishment or introduction of subsistence fish and game populations.
    The Department of Highways should become a Department of Transportation with staff capability to evaluate and plan transportation in relation to subsistence resource use. The Department of Natural Resources should develop a subsistence program; perhaps a Subsistence Division should be established to work with the Division of Lands and Division of Parks and Recreation within the Department.
  5. Subsistence Office. Within State government there should be one centralized office which focuses on subsistence resource planning. In addition to each Department carefully making subsistence considerations, there needs to be one office whose sole responsibility is subsistence planning. This responsibility might best be placed within the Department of Community & Regional Affairs or within the Division of Policy, Development and Planning in the Governor's office.

The Regional Corporation and Land Use Planning

Calista, the regional corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta must play an important and responsible role in land use planning. Calista, like other regional corporations has a financial responsibility to the people through investing of funds and the development of sub-surface resources like oil and gas. This responsibility to make money for the people is very important but a greater responsibility of the corporation is to be responsive to the true needs and wishes of the people.

To remain responsive to the real needs of the people, the regional corporation will have to develop and maintain very close cooperation and communication with the villages. The regional corporation's programs and policies must evolve directly from the goals and objectives of the villages. In relation to land use planning, these programs and policies must be considered in two areas: 1) the regional corporation's role in working with other land managers (i.e. Federal, State and regional governments and private land holders) in cooperative land use planning efforts, and 2) the creation of the regional corporation's own development projects.

land useAn example of how the regional corporation can help involve the needs and interests of the villagers in the regional land use planning was Calista's testimony at the Land Use Planning Commission's D2 land hearing in Bethel, 1973. Speaking for Calista, Mary Gregory clearly set out the type of land use considerations which must be made to protect the subsistence way of life. She said:

"My name is Mary Gregory. I wish to present a statement on D-2 lands and land use planning in this region on behalf of Calista, a non-profit organization of the 52 associated villages of this region. The Native people of this region historically have depended on the utilization of fish, wildlife and plants. These resources are the basis of their economy.

" Although some persons are no longer completely dependent on such use of resources, the overwhelming majority of the Native people depend to a substantial degree on fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering of plant foods. This economy cannot be supported on the land patented to the villages. The continued use of public lands for such subsistence uses would be essential for the welfare of many persons and the viability of the Native culture. We will oppose wildlife refuges or any other classification of public lands in our region which does not recognize and protect the needs of the village people to use all of the land in the region for substantial, subsistence activities. We will support the creation of wildlife refuges on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Deltas and in the Togiak area if the legislation establishing these refuges there is the following: 1) A primary purpose of the refuge would be to provide for the continuance of the subsistence way of life of village people. 2) Subsistence resources on which the people depend will be protected from such things as oil and other pollution and adverse impact of too many visitors. 3) Subsistence activities would be authorized as the basis of the way of the Native people in this region. I will restate that—3) Subsistence activities will be authorized as the basis of the way of life of the Native people of this region. 4) The village people will be actively involved in the planning and management of any refuges created, provisions for their involvement would be included in the legislation creating the refuge. If the foregoing conditions for establishing new refuges can also be guaranteed for existing refuges within this region. We support inclusion into the wildlife refuge system of virtually all public lands in the region which is not selected by either villages or the regional corporations for the D-2 and other public lands in our region we ask the Land Use Planning Commission to support the following consideration. 1) The Land Use Planning Commission will assist and cooperate with the development of a regional land use planning effort. 2). The Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission will encourage the development of regional transportation systems, such as improved air service, hovercraft, and greater use of marine highways, which do not involve overland roads. 3) Extensive public easement between villages or running elsewhere through the region will not be created at this time."1

"We will oppose wildlife refuges or any other classification of public lands in our region which does not recognize and protect the needs of the village people."

In the future, subsistence resources may not appear to be as important as the value of other land uses when they are evaluated by Western methods of dollars and cents—cost and benefit analysis. The cost of replacing the subsistence foods lost as a result of another resource development may not be as great as the amount of cash generated by the development. Is the development then judged more valuable simply because it can be equated with more cash? Are there other values to be considered? If so, how should these considerations be made? Elaborating on these thoughts, Dr. Brad Tuck, economist, for the Federal-State Land Use Planning Commission has said:

"I think that an over reliance on subsistence activity in an economic context has fairly serious implications from a policy point of view, if in fact your interest is maintenance of the subsistence way of life. Now, that in turn suggests that subsistence activity needs to be considered in a much broader context than a purely economic one; it is a genuine social and cultural concern.... We can't solve subsistence questions in isolation. The resolution of the subsistence crisis has to take place in the context of development of an overall common philosophy for planning in Alaska... We need to establish fundamental policy parameters for planning that do answer questions such as: Do we have development in an economic sense as you commonly measure it? If so, what kind of development? Where should this development take place? How much of it do we want? To what extent do we have controls over the amount of development that takes place? ... What I am suggesting here is that we do need the development of an overall context of planning, one that treats the issue of subsistence as a major issue, and one that also considers non-subsistence uses."2

elderThe greatest challenge facing the regional corporation is not how greatly financial assets can be increased. The real challenge is in developing its own method of considering questions of resource use so that the real needs of the village people will be served. Since the decisions will involve subtle and complex relationships between subsistence, cultural, and financial factors, the method or process of evaluating will have to relate to both Yupik and Western values. This task will be all the more difficult because people of the Delta are for the most part not familiar with the Western corporate system and methods of resource evaluation.

The complexities of the corporate financial world and resource planning have presented many problems to Native Americans. Most American Indian tribes remain in something of a trust status with the U.S. government. One exception has been the Menominee people, who like Alaska Natives received their land and financial settlement free and clear and took responsibility for the management of these resources. Because of striking similarities between the Menominees termination of tribal status and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, some lessons might be learned from the Menominee experience. The Native American Rights Fund has described the Menominee dilemma in an article titled "Making the White Man's Law Fit the Indian—the Menominee Restoration Act." When the Menominee Termination Act was signed into law on June 17, 1954.

"...the Menominee then were unexpectedly asked to pay the costs for a formidable array of studies, meetings and designs associated with the planning process. The actual (settlement) plan was such a complex and lengthy legal document that few Menominee, government officials, lawyers or experts associated with it comprehended it...
"The tribal assets were turned over to a new corporation, Menominee Enterprises Inc. (MEI), and suddenly Menominee survival was based on knowledge of a complicated, corporate style of living including: par value stocks, voting trusts, income bonds and shareholders rights...

"Subsistence activity needs to be considered in a much broader context than a purely economic one; it is a genuine social and cultural concern."

"The effects of termination and corporate-style management of Menominee assets pitted brother against brother and parents against their children. It increased the poverty of most individual Menominees, created political turmoil, and brought on economic chaos...

" MEI, as well as individual Menominees, were forced to sell corporate shares and land in order to pay county and State taxes. As a result, acres and acres of the heartland of the magnificent Menominee forest were sold to non-Indians and Menominee reservation lands fell into the hands of non-Indian developers who destroyed religious sites and the cultural character of the community.

" Interestingly enough, the corporate structure of MEI did not provide for control by the Menominee. Non-Indian businessmen and so-called experts were given control over the operation to insure its success. The result was collusion with non-Indian interests and the demise of the Menominee assets."

We will not face the taxation problems of the Menominees for some years, but our regional corporation is otherwise in virtually the same position as was the Menominee Enterprises Inc. In the end, the Menominee asked and were given restoration of their tribal status in order to prevent the complete loss of their land and financial assets and cultural identity. If Calista and the Yupik people are to fare any differently, we will have to find ways to

  1. Have the people informed and involved in the decisions affecting our land, financial assets and culture;
  2. Find ways to make the corporate system serve the values and needs of our culture;
  3. Make certain the control of Calista always remains with the people in the villages. Only leaders with a deep sense of commitment of responsibility to the people should be elected to the Board of Directors.

The problems of resolving subsistence and cash resource development problems will be particularly difficult in our region because many of the people living the subsistence lifestyle are not well experienced in dealing with cash. From the family level to the regional corporation ways must be learned to deal with cash and to balance cash economic development with protection and use of subsistence resources. Both for individuals and the corporation there are difficulties in learning how to deal with the cash economy, as John Paul Jones has testified to the Land Use Planning Commission:

"We cannot just become businessmen overnight... you're just pushing us, pushing us."

"We cannot just become businessmen overnight and be a Ford company or GMC company. We can't do that. And you know it. But the way things are now, you're just pushing us, pushing us, pretty soon you take this land and you take that land over there too and say, okay, this is now Federal government land.. . I don't think you can take these people off the land. They have been eating the food off the land for many years now. You have your black fish. You have your tom cods. You have your moose. You have your seal. The land is rich. Gives you food, nourishment. Keeps you alive. Now, I think what you're trying to say is that you are hoping someday we get into your economy, you know, get with it in your economy and live your standards. Have steak on Sundays, every morning have eggs, juice, that is the thing that I feel is being imposed on the people. . . It's just destroying a person, I think. It's destroying our life style."1
fixing engine

If the regional corporation imposes too much of the cash economy too quickly, it runs the risk of destroying the life style of the people it is supposed to serve. The corporate structure and decision making process that were imposed upon us by the Native Claims Settlement Act and our financial and natural resources provide certain opportunities to benefit from the modern ways of life. But the risks of losing our own way of life while learning to deal with the corporate cash economy system are very real. These risks can be minimized in a number of ways.

  1. The regional corporation should always make great efforts to communicate closely with the village people.
  2. The regional corporation should not move to develop resources hastily. There is great danger of mistakes being made when developments and changes come too quickly.
  3. The regional corporation should develop a process of environmental and cultural evaluation similar to the National Environmental Policy Act to help make certain that the bad effects of developments don't outweigh the beneficial effects.
  4. The regional corporation should always be directly controlled by the village people, never by an elite removed from the people or by outside financial interests which probably won't care about the real needs and well being of the people.

"You are hoping someday we get into your economy...have steaks on Sundays... every morning have eggs and juice."

Villages and Land Use Planning

The villages have perhaps the most important role in the land use planning process. They are the closest organization to the land. So they should be most sensitive as to how the land can serve the people and how the land can be protected. Since village corporations own surface rights to land in their area, they will have the primary responsibility to manage the subsistence resources upon which the village people depend. The villages will have to resolve conflicts and problems of competing uses as they arise, between different people in the village, between different villages, and between the village and the regional corporation.

Stanley Waskog of Emmonak has described the type of cooperative spirit he would like to see continue throughout the villages:

(Interpreted by Mr. Martin Moore)

"He says that first of all, he's talking about the future young people of the State. And at this time that is his concern, not particularly himself. Because he's getting old now, he wants the younger generation of the State of Alaska in this area to be protected. He says that he'll probably not be able to hunt too much anymore, but his children, and his son's children will use that land.

" He'd like to now make a stand to protect those children—the future children of this area. He says that now the Federal government and State government are going to be talking about this land for a long time. It's no use stopping them now. We should proceed and help them progress provided we have a partial say-so in the control of that area.

" He says he's changed his residence at least three times in this time. The first one was in Quigmy, one of the old historical sites right about
15, 20 miles from here. He says when he lived there, the only type of income that he had was, that he knew, was subsistence living. He says particularly in wintertime, it's the only thing that really gives him nourishment and helps to bring him up was the black fish and the rabbits and the ptarmigan that were within that area. He says when he was young, when he was in Quigmy, in the summer time he used to catch fish and that's how he make his living in the summer time, and make dry fish and eat dry fish.

" He says as far as he could remember, none of the villages in that surrounding area had ever had any conflict over whose hunting rights and hunting grounds they were. All of the hunting grounds that he knew, were always shared by the nearby villages ever since he knew. Knowing that experience, he wants that experience to continue with the (cooperation) of the Department of Fish and Game in the management of that land. He says he moved, later on to Hamilton, and he made Hamilton his residence. And when he went to Hamilton he made new acquaintances, and knew surrounding villages that was Katlik and the other little surrounding villages that shared the same thing, they shared all the hunting places without ever arguing whose hunting rights those other places were. He says that he knew that these people were helping each other by cooperation.

"No one time has he ever seen a dispute between whose mink a mink is, and whose land otter a land otter is, or whose hunting ground that is."

"He strongly emphasized and wants the Commission to know that he wants full cooperation, a working relationship with the Eskimos of this area for the things that they need in management and in control of different types of species of hunting animals. He says that in his experience, he went up in the mountain hills to go hunting, and many times he met other people that were up from other villages that went up in that country to hunt. Furthermore, he went around the coast and yet met other people that went hunting in that area. And never once did he have an argument over whose hunting place it is or what he should get from that area. He says only if that kind of harmony and working relationship could be established within this new area, then he would agree to that matter.

" He says from Hamilton he moved to Emmonak and makes his residence here. He said when he moved here, he met many more people and covered much more land and he is among many other villages now. He says that he is able to travel with snow machine into places where he never traveled before. He's able to travel with a boat and meet many more people that he never met before.

" He's out traveling around Sheldon's Point, around Katlik, around Mountain Village area, and many areas that he didn't cover when he was in that first place. But he says, strangely that these Eskimos that were traveling to further places and cover more area, their working relationship seems to be in closer harmony than it has ever been before. He says that not one time has he ever seen a dispute between whose mink a mink is, and whose land otter a land otter is, or whose hunting ground that is.
With that experience of three different villages, he says that if that could happen, then this is how the arrangements for that particular area should be incorporated into, or worked into, or managed into.

" He says that people now make use of the coast, they make use of the interior, they make use of the hills, and most of all of the people here in this region practically know each other. When he was young, they used to go by rowboats, dog team, but now even though they're mingling with many other people of the Eskimo area, they still find harmony and that's the way it should go".1

One way in which the villages have resolved to continue the open use of the land by village people is an agreement reached between the villages that all Native people in the region could have access to all of the village lands.

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