TITLE: To Support the Swift Enactment of the Federal Subsistence Board Proposed Amendments to Determine Rural Community Status under Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act
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, the continuation of the opportunity for subsistence uses by Alaska Natives on the public lands is essential to the physical, economic, traditional, and cultural existence of Native peoples; and
WHEREAS, the continuation of subsistence uses of resources on public and other lands in Alaska is threatened by its increasing population, with resultant pressure on subsistence resources, by sudden decline in the populations of some wildlife species which are crucial subsistence resources, by increased accessibility of remote areas containing subsistence resources, and by taking of fish and wildlife in a manner inconsistent with recognized principles of fish and wildlife management; and
WHEREAS, the subsistence resources harvest priority guaranteed by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) only extends to communities whose residents are deemed “rural” by Federal Subsistence Board regulations published at 36 C.F.R. § 242.15; and
WHEREAS, the Federal Subsistence Board’s determination of which communities are “rural” has proved problematic, time consuming, and has resulted in wrongful, formulistic determinations ignoring key attributes of individual communities in Alaska, which maintain customary and traditional harvests of subsistence resources; and
WHEREAS, on April 15, 2014, the Federal Subsistence Board acknowledged the deficiencies in the current rural determination process and voted unanimously to recommend to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to implement an administrative rulemaking to amend 36 C.F.R. § 242.15 in a manner to reflect the realities of rural communities in Alaska; and
WHEREAS, the Federal Subsistence Board’s proposed amendments would restore Alaska Native communities to their rightful rural community status.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI urges the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to draft and publish, with all deliberate speed, the regulation recommended by the Federal Subsistence Board governing the processes by which Alaska communities classified as “rural” for purposes of ANILCA’s subsistence priority; and
BE IT FURTHER 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 2014 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, October 26-31, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia, with a quorum present.