The Napaskiak bingo hall was where the subsistence meeting was held. Napaskiak Tribal Administrator Steven Maxie brought a meal of fresh king salmon for guests as the subsistence discussion began. Napaskiak Tribal President Earl Samuelson welcomed everyone and explained the purpose of the subsistence meeting.
“try to prepare our people for what can happen, this time everyone will be on the same piece of music,” said Samuelson.
He was referring to last year’s unprecedented subsistence fishing closure where fisherman went out to fish, despite State ordered subsistence fishing closures. Fisherman there who were cited and went through the court trials insisted that they are not protest fisherman and criminal, but subsistence fisherman trying to feed their families.
Mike Williams Senior says the meeting was to bring subsistence fisherman together in order to be unified.
“we haven’t held a meeting like this before, and I didn’t want our people going off in different directions, and weakening our stance, the Yup’ik way of life we have inherited is sacred,” said Williams.
Melvin Egoak of Atmautluak reminded everyone that the creator will bless the Yup’ik people with more fish if the traditional Yup’ik law of providing for the orphans, widows and widowers, and those who cannot fish for themselves is practiced.
Samuelson and Maxie told their story of lobbying the State Board of Fish members, to include a provision where elders sixty (60) years and older may be allowed to fish, during closures.
“ if you’re sixty years of age, and can still get out on a boat, there will be a time, I hope you don’t have to use it, I hope everyone can fish, but if it was a season like last year they can allow elder fishing,” said Samuelson.
The State Board of Fish approved a provision saying elders may be allowed to fish, as apposed to shall be allowed. Meaning that conservation measures trump elders to the chinook if it came down to that.
Napakiak elder, Jacob Black urged everyone to fully understand the issues and not be afraid to get the right information.
For now there are no subsistence fishing restrictions on the main stem of the Kuskokwim River.