The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Support for the Establishment of the Inter-Tribal Fish Commissions for the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, healthy and abundant Chinook Salmon stocks of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers are essential to the cultural, nutritional, and economic well-being and way of life of the tribal villages and peoples who live along these river drainages; and
WHEREAS, the Chinook stocks in the Yukon and Kuskokwim River drainages and Chinook stocks throughout the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region are in a serious state of decline, resulting in closed commercial fisheries and subsistence fisheries restricted to the point where tribal members are not attaining the amount necessary to satisfy their basic needs; and
WHEREAS, the salmon stocks are currently managed by the State of Alaska Fish & Game Department and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, without any meaningful consultation with the affected tribes; and
WHEREAS, the Pacific Salmon Treaty of 1985 between the United States and Canada for the sharing of Yukon Chinook salmon, and unity between Alaska Yukon River tribes and Canadian First Nation Peoples affirms the detrimental impact the decline of Chinook stocks have and significant role of affected Native peoples in restoring Chinook runs on the Yukon to their historical levels; and
WHEREAS, successful fisheries resource management requires meaningful cooperation and coordination with the tribes who reside along the Yukon and Kuskokwim river drainages and a strong science program informed by the traditional knowledge of tribal peoples; and
WHEREAS, the tribes located along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers wish to ensure that healthy and abundant Chinook and other salmon stocks are available for future generations to continue the fishing way of life that has sustained the Yukon and Kuskokwim tribes since time immemorial; and
WHEREAS, the state of the Chinook salmon requires full tribal governmental involvement in the management of their fishing rights, resources and habitat; and
WHEREAS, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Tanana Chiefs Conference have been directed by their respective member tribes to create an Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for the Yukon River and an Inter-Tribal Fish Commission for the Kuskokwim River; and
WHEREAS, the guiding principles for the Commissions include ensuring a unified participation of all tribes that depend upon the salmon for their livelihood, establish maximized tribal participation in all aspects of salmon management to ensure the restoration and conservation of Chinook salmon and other salmon stocks to abundant and sustainable levels sufficient to provide for the nutritional, food security, traditional, and economic needs in perpetuity.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI does hereby support the establishment of intertribal fish commissions for the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers to engage in meaningful co-management with state and federal management agencies on Chinook and other salmon stock species for the purpose of protecting their traditional subsistence way of life; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI does hereby support the introduction and passage of implementing federal legislation; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2013 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Cox Business Center from October 13 - 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present.