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Aerial Spraying of Pesticides: Decision Questioned
by Elroy Edenshaw Jr.


March 11, 2005

When I think of social injustice and the complete lack of hearing the concerns of United States citizens, I think of the disregard of those who might fit a certain social environment or a cultural environment with a lifestyle that is dependent on natural resources to provide for their families. Citizens who lack availability of jobs in the areas they might live. People who are culturally connected by their lifestyle to the land in ways that not only provides food but also enhances their heritage and the spirituality aspects of who they are.

When a community such as Hydaburg seeks support for their concerns, DEC and the State of Alaska are not only not hearing their concerns about aerial spraying of pesticides but also ignoring organizations that have passed resolutions supporting Hydaburg - and the originations I am talking about are Federally recognized Tribes. These tribes have a combined tribal membership of twenty-seven thousand. If you add up the numbers with Hydaburg, these tribes and concerns of other Alaska citizens, the total is about 30-thousand Alaska state residents that have opposed aerial spraying of pesticides on Long Island.

Yet DEC has decide to allow the spraying despite overwhelming opposition. I don't understand why our state leaders, who were elected to represent us on the state level, did not hear the concerns of 30-thousand Alaska state citizens. Where was our government when the numbers reflected some kind of legislation that would protect or respect the Alaska state citizens who elected them?

I don't understand why DEC would not hear the concerns of so many, but yet a few years ago in Juneau a few residents that lived on Thane Road raised concerns about a mine and DEC jump up and ran though hoops to press the concerns of a few home owners and optimally helped shut down a mining company that invested over a 100 million dollars. I give that example to reflect my concern of fairness and accountability of DEC. Yet when a whole community's health and well being could be affected due to the fact they are rural and dependent on this land and this eco system, they are not heard and a permit allowing aerial spraying on Long Island is allowed. When a small group of home owners living in an urban environment which allows them greater availability to jobs, stores and food to provide for their families complain, it seemed DEC had a total different response. I know this because I worked for that mining company and I lost my job and had to work for a different mining company.

I support industry and economic growth. But when it comes down to spraying pesticides with no true data of how these pesticides affect human health, animals and the eco system, then a line needs to be made in the sand and some communication between DEC and our law makers needs to be done to prevent such activity.

I stand back and look at my past experience with DEC from working in the mining industry and I reflect on DEC's response to the large out cry of opposition in Ketchikan and Hydaburg against this permit allowing for aerial spaying of pesticides. But, yet the permit was still approved by DEC. 

I ask, does it really make a difference where one lives to be heard? But most importantly, DEC and our law makers should reconsider this type of aerial spaying of pesticides and not allow this to happen in the state of Alaska. This is not only an opportunity for the State of Alaska to respect rural communities but also to respect our native tribal leaders that bring forth our concerns. 

And if the permit is still approved and nothing is done that would protect the health and well being of communities such as Hydaburg, then we all should be concerned about where we live in Alaska and be concerned about being heard.


Elroy C. Edenshaw Jr.
Ketchikan, AK - USA

Related Viewpoint:

letter Aerial Spraying of Pesticides by Rob Sanderson Jr. - Ketchikan, AK - USA



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