Traditional Subsistence Gathering Area
by Lee Wallace
November 11, 2004
The tribal members of the Organized Village of Saxman who are dependent upon Gravina Island for food first passed a resolution objecting to any timber cutting on Gravina Island in 2002.
Neighboring tribal communities including the Metlakatla Indian Community and the Ketchikan Indian Community, tribal governments adopted formal resolutions opposing the harvest of timber.
For millennia, the Alaska Native Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida of Southeast Alaska have relied on Gravina Island, and continue to depend on Gravina to meet the nutritional, cultural, and spiritual needs of their people. The very future of Saxman and neighboring tribes are threatened by the U.S. Forest Service Supervisor's decision to harvest timber from approximately 1,807 acres providing 37.9 million board feet of sawlog and utility volume and the provision of 239 jobs.
Gravina Island (61,404 acres) is roughly one mile west of the communities of Ketchikan and Saxman, Alaska and six miles from Metlakatla in the southeast corner of Alaska. Currently, Gravina Island is accessible only by water or air. National Forest System lands encompass approximately 39,393 acres on the western half of the island (the project area). Bostwick Inlet, an area that is actively used for subsistence resources, is located approximately six miles north of Dall Head, on the southern portion of the island.
It is undisputable that Native cultures for centuries (and today) have depended upon the plethora of natural resources; however, the Forest Service sees a need to extract timber at the detriment to subsistence resources, and follow through with a direct desecration attack on traditional areas where Saxman, Metlakatla, and Ketchikan Native communities hunt, fish, and food gather. Over 5,000 subsistence and Native households believe logging will irreversibly harm customary and traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering activities for this generation and many more following. Yet, clear cutting by the Forest Service will provide a scant 239 jobs that pale in comparison to a significant number of Natives who want to defend their way of life. The timber harvest will violate the Alaska Native culture and endanger the very future of Saxman tribal members.
It is with care, concern, compassion and continued commitment that we share our story and hope that you will immediately send letters of support to:
before November 22, 2004, joining us in a letter rally urging the Forest Service to reverse its decision, in order, to safeguard the critical community use area from the short and long term effects of the logging development approved in the challenged Record of Decision.
Any parties who disagree with the actions of the Forest Service to select a modified version of Alternative 3, Gravina Timber Harvest are encouraged to support Saxman in its' Appeal submittal, despite, Forest Service responsibilities to enter into meaningful government to government consultation with the federally recognized tribe - Organized Village of Saxman; in addition, to its responsibility to consult and collaborate with tribal governments when implementing projects that disproportionately impact minority and low income communities, and with the continued questions requiring further analysis and consideration for cumulative effect to deer, seal, fish, shell fish, indigenous berries, plant, and vegetable life. Saxman respectfully requests a copy of your support letter be sent to:
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.