Some Villages Refuse Cultural “Taste” of King Salmon

by Charles Enoch on June 13, 2014


Nunapitchuk, Alaska. One of the three Johnson River villages who decided not to take part in the cultural harvest. Photo courtesy of

During a time of king salmon restrictions never before seen on the Kuskokwim River, federal wildlife managers are allowing federally recognized villages a small “taste” of king salmon through special permits. Allowing for a limited harvest in federally managed waters from just above Aniak to the mouth of the Kusko. But this isn’t receiving complete acceptance as many thought.

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The Johnson River villages of Nunapichuk, Kasigluk and Atmautluak held a tribal meeting regarding the special permits authorized by federal wildlife managers. Federal managers hoped this would appease villages around the Kuskokwim who are affected by these king salmon restrictions.

The Permits would have allowed Kasigluk to harvest 53 king salmon, Nunapichuk 46 and Atmautluak 26. But these tribes decided they would protest against such a small harvest by not participating.

Nunapichuk Tribal Administrator did not want to be recorded but told KYUK in an interview that the village leaders in the area are tired of submitting to “what the white man wants.” He also said the tribal officials are tired of their people being regulated in their subsistence way of life.

Federal Managers have authorized 32 villages along the Kuskokwim and coastal area to participate in the special harvest. As of Thursday afternoon, 8 have confirmed with KYUK that they’re applying for the permits, 19 have not yet decided were not available for comment. Fish and Wildlife are currently sending representatives to these villages to issue permits, if they are accepted.

Much further upriver, the native tribe of Nikolai was the only village that stated they would like to apply but can’t afford to participate, but could not afford to send a fisherman below Aniak to federally regulated waters. It has yet to be seen if upriver villages will encounter the same hurdles.

As of Wednesday, June 11, those special permits allow for permit fishing, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 9pm. Those special permits will expire on June 30, or if the quota for the village holding the permit is met.

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