New steps to empower Alaska natives in subsistence management

Feb 16, 2024


In an ambitious move to reinforce Indigenous influence over Alaska's subsistence resources, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior propose adding Alaska Native representatives to the Federal Subsistence Board (FSB).  

This initiative seeks to bridge traditional knowledge with contemporary management practices, empowering Alaska Native communities through direct participation. 

The FSB's mandate includes managing subsistence hunting and fishing, crucial for the food security and cultural continuity of Alaska Native peoples. Historically, the board has combined federal and public members, but the new proposal emphasizes the inclusion of individuals with direct subsistence living experience, especially from Indigenous backgrounds. 

This change highlights the U.S. government's commitment to respecting and incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems into federal decision-making processes. It is a response to extensive Tribal consultations and recognizes the vital role of Indigenous practices in sustainable environmental management. 

Secretaries Vilsack and Haaland have both highlighted the proposal as a step towards fulfilling the nation's trust responsibilities to Indigenous peoples, ensuring their central role in subsistence management discussions. It acknowledges the challenges posed by climate change to traditional subsistence practices and aims to adapt the management framework to better address these issues. 

The proposal not only aims to ensure more effective subsistence resource management but also to honor the profound connections between Alaska Native communities, their traditions, and the lands and waters they have stewarded for generations.  

By facilitating stronger collaboration and enhancing Tribal sovereignty, the initiative marks a significant advancement in the way subsistence management is approached, offering a model for integrating Indigenous wisdom and leadership into federal environmental governance.

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