FROM STATEHOOD TO PRESENT
1925: Territory Adopts Game Law. The law provides for subsistence by
allowing " any Indian or Eskimo, prospector or traveler" to take
animals, birds or game fish during closed seasons or when in need of
1959: Alaska Becomes A State. The new state adopts a constitution that reserves fish
and wildlife resources for "common use" by all Alaskans.
1960: Alaska Gets Fish and Game Authority. The federal government transfers authority for management of fish and game in Alaska to the new state government.
1964: Alaska Moves Katie John. To protect spawning sockeye salmon,
state resource managers move Katie John, an Ahtna Native, from her family's ancestral fish camp at Batzulnetas
on the upper Copper River.
1971: Congress Passes Native Claims Act. Congress passes the
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Alaska Natives give up
claims to aboriginal lands and hunting and fishing rights in
exchange for 46 million acres and $962 million. No law is enacted to protect subsistence, but the conference report states Native subsistence and subsistence lands will be protected by the State of Alaska and federal Department of the Interior.
1973: U.S. Government Mulls Alaska Lands Act. Congress begins considering what ultimately will become the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980.
1974: Board of Game Gets Subsistence Authority. The state Board of Game
gets authority to set up subsistence hunting areas and to open and close seasons
to protect subsistence.
1975: Arctic Caribou Herd Crashes. When numbers of caribou in the Western Arctic
herd drop precipitously, the state designs a system to award permits to
hunters most dependent on the herd. Criteria for permits included
customary and direct dependence, local residency and availability of
alternate resources. A Fairbanks sportsmen's group successfully
challenges the system, spurring efforts to include subsistence
protections in federal law.
1978: Alaska Adopts First Subsistence Law. Watching and anticipating Congressional action on Alaska subsistence, the Alaska Legislature passes the state's first subsistence law.
It defines subsistence as "customary and traditional" uses and establishes subsistence as the highest priority use of fish and
wildlife. It directs the Boards of Fisheries and Game to develop regulations to allow for subsistence harvests whenever a biological surplus is available. It also creates the Division of Subsistence within Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The law does
not define subsistence users.
1980: Congress Passes Alaska Lands Act. Congress passes the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA),
creating new national parks, preserves and wildlife refuges on 104 of
Alaska's 375 million acres. Title VIII of ANILCA requires a subsistence priority for rural residents on federal public lands. It also says the State of Alaska can manage fish and game on
federal public lands if it enacts a law granting a subsistence priority to rural residents, in compliance with ANILCA. Congress also establishes the Federal District Court of Alaska to hear claims that the state is not properly implementing the subsistence priority.
1982: Alaska Changes Regulations to Match Federal Lands Act. The state Boards of Fisheries and Game adopt regulations creating a "rural" subsistence priority to achieve consistency with ANILCA.
1982: Governor Appoints Subsistence Commission. A special commission is
appointed by Alaska Gov. Bill Sheffield to resolve controversy
surrounding the subsistence
1983: Initiative Attacks State Subsistence Law. A Fairbanks sport hunting group, Alaskans for Equal Hunting and Fishing, collects 20,000 signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that would repeal the 1978 subsistence law. The ballot proposition is rejected by voters.
1983: McDowell Sues State On Rural Criteria. Anchorage outdoorsman Sam McDowell sues the
state over its subsistence law, saying it denies subsistence to some
urban residents who have historically depended on it, while granting
privileges to some rural residents who don't need it.
1984: Katie John Sues U.S. John and fellow villagers petition the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve to resume fishing at Batzulnetas. When they are denied, John sues the federal government, claiming it failed to ensure her subsistence rights guaranteed under ANILCA.
1985: Alaska High Court Overturns Rural Criteria. The Alaska
Supreme Court, in the Madison decision, rules that state regulations
limiting subsistence to rural residents aren't consistent with the
state's 1978 subsistence law. (Under state law, regulations can't
conflict with laws they're created under.) The state falls out of compliance with ANILCA.
1986: Alaska Adopts New Subsistence Law. The Alaska Legislature adopts a
new law limiting subsistence to rural residents. The new law defines rural as
areas where "non-commercial, customary and traditional use of fish and
game is a principal characteristic of the economy." The law also
requires state Boards of Fish and Game to identify resources that are
"customary and traditional" for subsistence.
1986: McDowell Amends Lawsuit. In state Superior Court, the lawsuit filed
by Sam McDowell is amended to challenge the state's new subsistence law.
1986: Kenaitze Tribe Sues Alaska. Kenai Peninsula tribal subsistence
fishermen sue the State of Alaska in federal court after the Boards of
Fish and Game determine most of the Kenai Peninsula to be "non-rural," making
residents ineligible for subsistence fishing and hunting. The tribe claims the
state's definition of rural violates Title VIII of ANILCA.
1986: Federal Court Rejects Kenaitze Claim. A federal
court judge rules against the Kenaitze Tribe, saying the definition of
rural under state law jibes with ANILCA.
1986: State Court Rejects McDowell Claim. The state superior
court holds that the 1986 subsistence law, including the rural priority,
1988: Ninth Circuit Reverses Kenaitze Decision. The Ninth U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the Kenaitze decision, finding that
the state's definition of rural is not consistent with ANILCA. The court
suggests that a definition of rural hinges on demographic
characteristics and orders the federal court in Alaska to establish a
subsistence fishery for the Kenaitzes. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately
1989: Kenaitzes Establish Educational Fishery. Under the
direction of the federal district court, the state and the Kenaitze
tribe agree to a one-year, educational fishery until a more permanent
solution can be found.
1989: Federal Court Rules Against Subsistence Bag Limits. The U.S. District Court, in Bobby (Lime Village) v. State, rules that the standard for subsistence hunting regulations is customary and traditional use of game and that seasons and bag limits generally are inappropriate for regulating subsistence.
1989: State Supreme Court Rejects Rural Criteria. The Alaska Supreme Court, in McDowell v. State, rules that Alaska's subsistence law granting a priority based solely on residency is inconsistent with "common
use" clause and other sections of the Alaska State Constitution. The
court grants a stay of the decision until June, 1990.
1990: U.S. Moves to Assume Subsistence Management. With the State of
Alaska now out of compliance with ANILCA, the federal government
publishes temporary federal subsistence regulations, containing minimal
changes to the state program.
1990: Legislature Debates Options. Seeking to avoid the pending
extension of federal authority over subsistence, the Alaska Legislature
considers alternatives including a constitutional amendment by Gov.
Steve Cowper. The House amends Cowper's proposed amendment, then rejects
it. The Senate never votes on the amendment.
1990: Governor Calls Special Session. Gov. Cowper
introduces a constitutional amendment that would have required a
statewide vote four years later. It's aimed at holding off federal
management (scheduled for July 1), and buying time to amend ANILCA or
challenge its constitutionality in court. Amended by the Senate, the
measure fails in the state House to get the two-thirds vote required for
1990: State Court Splits Subsistence, Rural Criteria. After
the McDowell decision is remanded to the lower courts for
implementation, a state judge determines that the rural criteria can be
removed from state law. This leaves the state with a subsistence
priority not limited to rural residents.
1990: Federal Management Begins. On July 1, the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture assume subsistence management on federal public lands
(not including navigable waters), adopting temporary regulations that generally mirror those of the state. Federal public lands comprise 60 percent of all lands in Alaska. The federal government lays out a two-year timetable for establishing a subsistence management program in Alaska.
1990: Federal Court Overrules Game Board. The U.S. District Court, in Kwethluk IRA Council v. State, authorizes an emergency caribou hunt for Kwethluk residents. The court overrules the state game board's denial of an emergency hunt, saying the board's decision lacked scientific standards that would offset the subsistence needs of Kwethluk residents.
1990: McDowell Challenges ANILCA's Rural Criteria. Sam McDowell, who successfully challenged the state's rural subsistence priority, sues the federal government in U.S. District Court, claiming the rural preference violates the U.S. Constitution. His suit, McDowell, et al v. USDI, alleges ANILCA's Title VIII violates the "equal protection" clauses of the constitution and the Alaska Statehood Act, and threatens the state's ability to manage wildlife populations with sound biological principles because of court intervention. The state declines to intervene.
1990: Game Board Adjusts Hunts. The state Board of Game holds an
emergency meeting to revise hunting regulations in anticipation of an
influx of hunters, as all Alaskans are now eligible for subsistence.
Non-residents are excluded from many hunts and other hunts are
administered through Tier II, a state system for discriminating among
eligible hunters when subsistence resources are low.
1990: All Alaskans Become Eligible for Subsistence. At a joint
meeting of the Boards of Fish and Game, the state Department of Law
confirms that all Alaskans must be considered potential subsistence
users in areas under state jurisdiction.
1990: Native Corporations Close Private Lands. Two regional Native corporations, NANA and AHTNA, close their lands to access by public, except for corporation shareholders, to protect subsistence use by Natives.
1990: U.S. Creates Federal Subsistence Board. Federal land management agencies initiate a program to assume
management of subsistence uses on federal public lands, including
creation of a five-member Federal Subsistence Board representing Bureau
of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service,
U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Federal Subsistence Board holds its first meeting Aug.
The Board receives its first appeal of hunting seasons Sept. 4. By Sept. 30, 17 appeals are filed with the subsistence board, including ones to expand subsistence species, limit hunts to local users, change bag limits, pre-empt state regulations and allow transfer of harvest permits.
1990: Katie John Sues for U.S. Jurisdiction at Batzulnetas. Katie John requests
a federal subsistence priority for harvest of sockeye salmon at her
traditional fish camp in upper the Copper River at Batzulnetas. National Park Service recommends the appeal be denied.
John sues the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture in federal
1990: Groups Seek U.S. Jurisdiction on Navigable Waters. Three Native groups, Association of Village Council Presidents, Tanana Chiefs Council and Rural Alaska Resource Association file an appeal to the Federal Subsistence Board, seeking inclusion of "navigable waters" in the federal definition of public lands.
1990: State Adopts Policy on Subsistence Fish Proposals. Meeting
to establish subsistence fisheries in Cook Inlet, the Board of Fisheries
adopts a policy that subsistence fishing proposals, throughout the
state, would be addressed only if subsistence needs weren't being met,
or if there was a conservation concern addressed by the proposal.
1990: Group Challenges Federal Subsistence Regulations. Arctic Regional Fish and Game Council files suit in U.S. District Court challenging federal temporary subsistence management regulations, arguing they are inconsistent with Native customs and traditions. It seeks a permanent injunction requiring implementation of its recommendations, including allowing hunting caribou from snow machines, removing bag limits from individual hunters, eliminating requirements for harvest permits, and allowing qualified villages to regulate subsistence hunting rather than federal authorities.
1990: Governor Appoints Subsistence Commission. Gov. Steve Cowper names 13 residents to a state Commission on Subsistence, created during the Legislature's special session on subsistence. The commission is charged with providing a report and recommendations to the Legislature by 1993.
1990: Federal Board Names Non-Rural Communities. The Federal Subsistence Board designates non-rural
communities, including Anchorage, Kenai area (including Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Nikiski, Salamatof, Kalifornsky, Kasilof and Clam Gulch), Wasilla Area (including Palmer, Wasilla, Sutton, Big Lake, Houston, and Bodenberg Butte), Fairbanks, Juneau Area (including Juneau, West Juneau and Douglas), Ketchikan Area (excluding Saxman), Homer Area (including Homer, Anchor Point, Kachemak City, and Fritz Creek), Seward, Valdez, and Adak.
1991: Kenaitzes Appeal Federal Non-Rural Designation. Kenaitze Indian Tribe files an appeal with the Federal Subsistence Board, seeking reversal of the non-rural determinations for Kenai, Homer, and Seward.
The appeal is denied.
1991: Governor Appoints Subsistence Advisory Council. Gov. Walter Hickel appoints a
ten-member subsistence council to build a program that will enable the state to implement its subsistence law in the wake of the McDowell decision.
1991: State Seeks Clarification on Waters. Alaska Department of Fish and Game appeals to the Federal
Subsistence Board, requesting that provisions of federal subsistence
hunting and fishing regulations relating to federal jurisdiction in certain marine and navigable waters be deleted. The state says assertion of federal authority over fish in state waters is contrary to the Statehood Act and ANILCA.
1991: Governor Introduces Subsistence Law Changes. Governor Hickel
drafts legislation that would amend the state's subsistence law. The
bill would establish, as qualifications, users who had a pattern of
living evidenced by six subsistence lifestyle criteria for three of the
past five years. One of the criteria requires consumption of 200 pounds
or more of fish and/or game per year. Residents of smaller communities
would be presumed to meet the criteria; others would be required
to apply and qualify on an individual basis. The law would be contingent
on changes to ANILCA. The Legislature fails to take action on the bill,
and considers other bills, including one that would provide a rural
preference plus a second-level preference for urban residents who could
demonstrate community or individual dependence on subsistence.
1992: U.S. Sets Up Subsistence Staff, Schedule. The Federal Subsistence Management Program becomes effective July 1.
The Federal Subsistence Board establishes a staff and regular meeting
schedule. The program applies to federal public lands and non-navigable
waters on those lands.
1992: State Adopts New Subsistence Law. Gov. Walter Hickel calls a special legislative session to address
subsistence. The Legislature approves changes to state management of
subsistence, including extension of eligibility to all Alaskans, a
definition of customary trade, and authorization of non-subsistence
areas on state land where no subsistence activities would be sanctioned.
Areas are defined as places where subsistence "is not part of the
economy, culture or way of life."
1992: State Establishes Non-Subsistence Areas. The joint Boards of Fish
and Game establish non-subsistence areas around Fairbanks,
Anchorage-Mat-Su-Kenai, Juneau and Ketchikan where subsistence uses
would not be allowed. Subsistence regulations in these areas are
repealed. Five months later, Valdez is added to the list. Proposals for
additional areas include game management unit 13 and all roaded areas.
1992: State Sues U.S. Over Management Authority. Under Gov. Hickel,
Alaska sues to challenge federal authority to manage fish and wildlife
on Alaska's federal lands. The case, Alaska vs. Babbitt, is consolidated
with Katie John vs. U.S.
1992: U.S. District Court
Rejects McDowell Claim. U.S. District Court Judge Russell Holland upholds ANILCA's rural preference in McDowell, et al v. USDI. Holland rejects McDowell's claim that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
1993: Federal Regional Advisory Councils Established. The Secretary of the Interior approves 10 charters, establishing the Alaska Subsistence Advisory Councils as provided for by Section 805 of ANILCA.
1993: State Superior Court Rejects Non-Subsistence Areas. Alaska Superior Court Judge Dana Fabe,
in Kenaitze vs. Alaskas, rules that non-subsistence areas established by
the 1992 state law were unconstitutional because they "effectively
re-establish the rural-urban residency requirement struck down in
McDowell. The State appeals the ruling to in favor of Kenaitze Indian Tribe, making Alaska's subsistence law passed on June 22, 1992, unconstitutional. In theory, this again makes all Alaskans eligible for subsistence hunting and fishing under state law.
1993: Sen. Stevens Tells State to Comply with ANILCA. U.S. Senator for Alaska Ted Stevens urges Alaska state leaders to seek compliance with ANILCA in order to keep the Clinton administration from taking over management of subsistence fisheries in Alaska.
1994: Sen. Murkowski Predicts Federal Takeover of Fisheries. U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, speaking to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature, predicts a federal takeover of fisheries for subsistence management will occur by 1995.
1994: Court Endorses Federal Authority on All Navigable Waters. U.S. District Court Judge Holland rules for Katie John, concluding that the federal government, not the State of Alaska, is entitled to manage fish and wildlife on public lands in Alaska for purposes of Title VIII of ANILCA.
He also rules that "public lands" include all navigable waters in Alaska inside the three-mile limit. He issues a 60-day stay order on implementing his decision, and indicates it will be extended if his decision is appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The state and federal governments file appeals.
1994: U.S. Announces Plans to Manage Subsistence Fishing. Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt, writes to Governor Hickel saying that if the state does not adopt a certifiable program before judicial stays are lifted, the United States will assume the management of subsistence fishing in Alaska pursuant to direction of the federal courts.
1994: Legislative Bills Addressing Subsistence Fail. The state House of Representatives brings to the floor for a vote a bill that will place before the voters in the November, 1994 election a constitutional amendment. If adopted, the amendment will establish a rural priority for subsistence hunting and fishing. Reps. Cliff Davidson and Lyman Hoffman refuse to vote and are escorted from the room where last-minute bills are being considered. The motion fails. A similar bill in the Senate also fails to move out of committee.
1994: Gov. Hickel Submits Constitutional Amendment. Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel submits a proposed state constitutional amendment that will allow the state to grant a rural priority for subsistence. Also proposed are amendments to ANILCA that will ensure the state gains control of all hunting and fishing management, remove federal court oversight of subsistence in Alaska, and clarify that significant commercial trade could not take place under the guise of subsistence. With consensus, Hickel will call a special legislative session to seek a constitutional amendment measure on the November 1994 election ballot.
1995: State Drops Babbitt Lawsuit. Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles drops the State's 1992 lawsuit, Alaska v. Babbitt, which challenges the federal government's authority to manage subsistence hunting and fishing on federal lands in Alaska.
Knowles says Babbitt doesn't address the constitutionality of ANILCA and
included claims that were previously rejected or not ripe for review. The suit is one part of the consolidated Katie John v. U.S. litigation. The state will continue its appeal of the portion of the Katie John litigation which seeks extension of federal subsistence management jurisdiction to navigable waters.
1995: Legislature's Attempt to Intervene in Babbitt Fails. The Alaska Legislature passes a resolution which urges Gov. Knowles to continue the lawsuit, State v. Babbitt, and to pursue the state's position that the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture do not have the authority to assume management of fish and wildlife on public lands in Alaska. The Legislature's petition to intervene in the appeal is denied by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The decision is appealled.
1995: Outdoor Council Seeks to Intervene in Babbitt. The Alaska Outdoor Council files a motion with Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in State v. Babbitt, contending that Gov. Knowles abrogated his responsibility to protect their interests by dropping the state's participation in the suit.
1995: Appeals Court Narrows U.S. Jurisdiction on Waters. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in ruling on State v. Babbitt and Katie John v. U.S., reverses and remands the March 30, 1994, Federal District Court decision. Ninth Circuit rules that public lands include those navigable waters in which the U.S. has an interest by virtue of the reserved water rights doctrine. The court further directs federal agencies that administer the subsistence priority to identify those waters. The court directs that in determining whether the reserved water rights doctrine applies, it must be determined whether the U.S. intended to reserve unappropriated waters. Intent is inferred if waters are necessary to accomplish the purposes for which the land was reserved.
1995: State's High Court OKs Non-Subsistence Areas.The Alaska Supreme Court, in Kenaitze v. State, overturns the Alaska Superior Court's earlier ruling that non-subsistence areas were unconstitutional.
Previously established "non-subsistence" areas are automatically
reinstated. The court also finds that the "proximity" criterion for
determining qualification for the state's "Tier 2" subsistence uses
violates the Alaska constitution. The proximity criterion is
subsequently deleted from state law.
1995: State's High Court Contradicts U.S. Court Ruling. The Alaska Supreme Court, in Totemoff v. State, finds the State of Alaska has authority to enforce hunting and fishing laws on federal land, if state and federal laws or regulations don't conflict. In direct opposition to the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Katie John, the court rules that the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction
over navigable waters in Alaska.
1995: U.S. High Court Rejects Intervention Requests. U.S. Supreme Court rejects the Alaska State Legislature's and Alaska Outdoor Council's request to intervene in the appeal of the Katie John lawsuit.
1995: Southcentral Council Seeks Kenai Rural Designation. The
Southcentral Alaska Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Council recommends
finding the entire Kenai Peninsula rural for subsistence purposes.
1996: U.S. High Court Denies Petition to Review Katie John. The U.S.
Supreme Court denies the State of Alaska's petition to review the Katie John
decision. The petition was filed after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued
its final opinion on the Katie John case in December 1995.
1997: Gov. Knowles Appoints Subsistence Task Force. Governor Tony Knowles
appoints a seven-member Subsistence Task Force charged with forging a
subsistence solution and making recommendations on changes to the Alaska
Constitution, Alaska Statutes and ANILCA.
1998: Sen. Stevens Delays Federal Fish Management. Alaska Sen. Ted
Stevens negotiates a one-year moratorium on implementation of the Katie John
decision, effectively holding off federal management of subsistence fisheries
1998: U.S. Court Rejects Legislative Council Lawsuit. The Alaska Legislative Council and 17 Alaska legislators sue in
Federal District Court, challenging Title VIII and federal subsistence
regulations on public lands. The court dismisses the case.
1998: Legislature Defeats Gov. Knowles Subsistence Plan. Gov. Tony Knowles proposes a state constitutional amendment and amendments to ANILCA to resolve the subsistence conflict and head off a federal takeover of subsistence. The Legislature fails to pass the measure in two special sessions over the issue.
1999: Sen. Stevens Negotiates Second Delay. Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens again
negotiates a moratorium on extension of federal management to fisheries on
federal public lands. Federal management is set to begin October 1.
1999: Legislature Defeats Gov. Knowles Subsistence Plan. With a federal fisheries takeover looming, Knowles calls another special session. The Legislature again fails to approve a constitutional amendment.
1999: Federal Authority Extended to Navigable Waters. The federal government takes over subsistence management of fisheries on federal public lands Oct. 1.
Waters now under federal subsistence management include fresh waters that run in
or adjacent to national parks, forests, refuges, and reserves, and Wild and
Scenic Rivers. These include all the rivers of the Tongass National Forest, most
rivers on the Kenai Peninsula and large sections of the Yukon and Kuskokwim
2000: Federal Board Rules Kenai Peninsula Rural. The Federal Subsistence Board finds the entire Kenai Peninsula to be rural for the purposes of Title VIII of ANILCA, increasing the number of federally qualified subsistence users from 14,000 to 49,000.
2000: Federal Board Meets, Expands Subsistence Fisheries. The Federal
Subsistence Board holds its first meeting on subsistence fishery proposals. It
creates a new subsistence fishery for coho salmon and steelhead trout on Prince
of Wales Island, and for cutthroat and rainbow trout throughout Southeast
Alaska. Other deviations from state management include a general allowance for
cash sales (customary trade) of subsistence-caught fish.
2001: U.S. Appeals Court Reaffirms Katie John Decision. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on an 8-3 vote, reaffirms its 1995 decision in Katie John vs. U.S., that the federal subsistence jurisdiction extends to navigable waters on federal public lands.
2001: Federal Board Reverses Kenai Rural Decision. The Federal Subsistence Board, on reconsideration, finds Homer, Seward and Kenai and adjoining communities non-rural for federal subsistence.
The decision reduces eligible federal subsistence users on the peninsula from
49,000 to about 5,000. (Rural peninsula communities qualifying for subsistence
are Tyonek, Beluga, Hope, Sunrise, Cooper Landing, Ninilchik, Happy Valley,
Nikolaevsk, North Fork Road, Voznesenka, Kachemak Selo, Razdolna, Halibut Cove,
Jakalof Bay, Seldovia, Seldovia Village, Port Graham and Nanwalek.)
2001: Gov. Knowles Calls Subsistence Summit. Gov. Tony Knowles announces a "subsistence summit" to be held in Anchorage in mid-August, bringing together
a diverse group of Alaska leaders and aimed at 1) restoring state subsistence management, 2) protecting rural subsistence rights and 3) unifying Alaskans. Knowles says, "A democracy should not look to the legal system to develop public policy."
2001: Summit Group Endorses Rural Criteria. Following two days of meetings, Gov. Knowles’ Subsistence
Leadership summit adjourns, calling for a state constitutional amendment
guaranteeing a rural subsistence priority, co-management of fish and
game by Native and rural residents, and possible improvements to ANILCA.
Two of the 42 summit participants appointed by Gov. Knowles issue a
dissenting statement, calling for a needs-based system for governing
2001: State Court Rules Against Non-Subsistence Areas. State Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner rules that the State
of Alaska too quickly placed villages like Eklutna, Knik and Ninilchik
in nonsubsistence zones, a ruling that challenges the state’s
subsistence management model in Southcentral Alaska.
2001: Gov. Knowles Declines To Seek Katie John Appeal. On Aug. 27, Gov. Tony Knowles announces the state will not
appeal the landmark Katie John decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and
says he is ready to call a special session of the Legislature to take up
subsistence. “We must stop a losing legal strategy threatens to make a
permanent divide among Alaskans,” Knowles says. Fairbanks Republican
Sen. Pete Kelly says Knowles should be impeached.
2001: Gov. Knowles Appoints Subsistence Drafting Group. Knowles appoints an 11-member Subsistence Drafting Group to
work on a draft constitutional amendment and recommendations for the
Legislature to implement it. After several meetings, the group deadlocks
over creating a subsistence priority to urban residents, Alaska Natives
or tribes. A working draft calls for a priority for “customary and
traditional subsistence uses” and that those uses by rural residents
will receive a priority when restrictions on hunting or fishing are
necessary under the sustained yield principle.
2001: Drafting Group Issues Recommendations. Gov. Knowles' Subsistence Drafting Group issues its
recommendations, including: 1) a constitutional amendment making
subsistence by rural residents the top priority over other uses of fish
and game, 2) an allowance for creating a "second priority" for
individuals who show a long-term, consistent pattern of subsistence and
for communities with subsistence traditions. Recommendations include
guidelines on how a revised state subsistence law might be worded.
2001: Federal Board Expands Fisheries. The Federal Subsistence
Board, meeting ton consider fisheries proposals, establishes a new
subsistence fishery on federal sections of the Kenai River, the first
such fishery in 50 years. It also creates a regionwide subsistence coho
fishery in Southeast Alaska.
2002: Gov. Knowles Introduces Subsistence Legislation. Gov. Knowles introduces in the Legislature a resolution for a
state constitutional amendment on subsistence, incorporating a rural
subsistence preference and allowance of a "secondary preference" for
urban Alaskans who can demonstrate a customary and traditional use of
2002: Anchorage Voters Support Amendment Vote. By a nearly three-fourths margin, Anchorage voters say
"yes" to the following advisory question: "Shall the citizens of
Anchorage urge the Alaska Legislature to resolve the subsistence issue
by placing a constitutional amendment before the qualified voters at the
November 2002 general election?"
2002: Gov. Knowles Calls Special Session on Subsistence. Citing the results of the Anchorage advisory vote as
momentum toward a resolution, Knowles calls a special session of the
Legislature beginning May 15 to seek a solution to Alaska's subsistence
2002: Legislature Drops Subsistence in Special Session. The
Legislative special session is consumed by budget and school-funding
questions. One committee hearing is held on subsistence. Lawmakers
call for private meetings with Natives and outdoorsmen to find
agreement. Alaska Federation of Natives declines to participate, and the
private meeting idea is scrapped.
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