“Kake is a village of 550 people on Kupreanof Island in Southeast Alaska. About two thirds of the population is Tlingit Indian. The village has received permission to hunt two moose and two deer to ensure the health of its elders and provide culturally nourishing food during the pandemic.”J. Estus, Indian Country Today
In August, the state of Alaska sued to stop federal agencies from allowing emergency hunts. The U.S. District Court for Alaska last week sided with the federal agencies and dismissed the state’s motion for a preliminary injunction.The state has been fighting federal land managers over fish and game management off and on for decades.
This latest bout stems from COVID-related food shortages.
Last summer, store shelves in the Tlingit village of Kake, in southeast Alaska, were getting bare. COVID-19 outbreaks had slowed production at Washington state meat processors, Kake’s main source of non-game meat.
The state had mandated travel restrictions. And state budget cuts had all but shut down the low-cost ferry system used to ship food to island communities.
The Organized Village of Kake was one of three tribes that requested emergency hunts. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game denied their request. The village wrote to the Federal Subsistence Board, which manages subsistence on federal lands in Alaska.
The letter said vendors were having a difficult time meeting the needs of Kake’s stores…Kake tribal President Joel Jackson, Tlingit and Haida, also testified to the board. He said Kake tribal citizens, especially elders, needed the best nutrition they could get to be in the best health to fight COVID if they came into contact with it… The board authorized the emergency hunt and delegated details to the local U.S. Forest Service ranger.
The village ended up being approved to take two bull moose and five male deer…the village is using some of its COVID relief money to get a community walk-in refrigerator/freezer to safely store deer, fish and moose for the community.”
“The Indian Health Service continues to work closely with our tribal partners and state and local public health officials to coordinate a comprehensive public health response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners, to respond to this public health threat.” IHS – November 2020