Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine

Will Federal or State Management Afford Alaska Natives a More Effective Voice?

To many people the term `subsistence' connotes barely eking out an existence, a marginal and generally miserable way of life. That is not, however, the standard dictionary definition of the term, nor is it the way in which the word is used in Alaska.

Wild Food in its Season: The Seasonal Round of Harvest Activities in Fort Yukon

A newcomer to the north might not have a clue when the caribou are fattest, when marten pelts reach their shimmering prime, or when the lowbush cranberries peak in taste and color. But for the Gwich'in Athabaskans of Fort Yukon, Alaska, the serious business of gathering wild resources from the land follows a strict seasonal round established by their ancestors over centuries.

Why Subsistence is a Matter of Cultural Survival: A Yup'ik Point of View

Once there was a little blackfish swimming up a stream. Every so often he would swim up to the surface and look around. The first time he had surfaced he saw a camp where people were living. The people there were very careless. Their camp was unkempt and their belongings were strewn around. He noticed that when the people ate, they ate very carelessly.

Traditionally Integrated Development Near Lake Baikal, Siberia

The Okinsky Region is a mountainous, Vermont-size district southwest of Lake Baikal bordering Mongolia. It forms the panhandle of Buryaria, one of several so-called `autonomous' republics within Russia. A culturally based, locally designed, model land use plan is being implemented in the Okinsky Region in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Beluga Whales

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the system of knowledge gained by experience, observation, and analysis of natural events that is transmitted among members of a community In a subsistence economy, TEK is used to find, harvest, process, store, and sustain natural resources that are needed for food, clothing, and shelter.

The Ituri Forest Peoples Fund: Site; Ituri Forest, Democratic Republic of Congo

With tears streaming down her face, ImaNjede hands her three month-old daughter, Atauma, to Gilda. "Zilda, Zilda, save my baby" she pleads with a sense of desperation and faith that we can do miracles. Atauma lies on Gilda's lap shivering even though her skin is on fire and she is covered with sweat from an acute attack of malaria.

The Death of Chan K'in

Chan K'in Viejo, an elder of the Lacandón Indians of Chiapas, Mexico, shared tales of life in the Selva Lacandona and legends from the Lacandón-Maya cultural tradition. From the writings of Jacques Soustelle, Frans and Trudy Blom, Robert Bruce, Victor Perera, Linda Schele, and others, Chan K'in was known as an amicable and wise man with an extensive knowledge of Lacandón lore and legends.

The American Experience in Alaska

In Alaska, Native peoples and immigrants have a second chance to avoid the terrible mistakes made elsewhere in the U.S. and to work out mutual accommodations that would permit those who have lived in Alaska since time immemorial to maintain their ways of life.

Subsistence Statement from Gambell, AK

"Are you all familiar with the 4X100 yard relay race? In this event, four members of a team each run 100 yards and pass a baton to their teammate who is waiting to run the next leg. This procedure is followed until finally the fourth man runs to the finish line, baton in hand. If the baton is dropped during a hand-off, the team is out of the race.

Subsistence Hunting Activities and the Inupiat Eskimo

The boundaries of the North Slope Borough (NSB) encompass 89,000 square miles, stretching from the foothills of Alaska's Brooks Range to the coastline of the Arctic Ocean. NSB is a subdivision of the state of Alaska and provides the local government structure (similar to a county in other states).

Subsistence Economies in Rural Alaska

Since 1980, federal law has protected subsistence uses by "rural" Alaska residents. The rural language in ANILCA was a political compromise primarily intended to protect subsistence uses by Alaska Natives. Congress presumed that subsistence fishing and hunting by Alaska Natives would be largely safeguarded by a law protecting fishing and hunting of "rural" residents.

Subsistence and the Cultural Survival of the Athabascan People

Klutina and Tazlina finally saw what their dad was watching; it was a huge bull moose staring directly at them. It was mid-August, when their meat is in prime condition. It was Klutina's first hunt. Tazlina's father is going to show her brother how to provide the winter supply of meat for their family.

Managing Competition: The Copper River Fishery

For the Ahtna Athabaskans living along the Copper River in southcentral Alaska, salmon have been essential to their economic and cultural survival for 1,000 years. From mid-May to August, the Ahtna have always congregated at the fish camps along the river. Today, Copper River salmon are still vital to traditional Ahtna culture, but the river is now almost entirely accessible by road.

Indian Casinos Threatened by the Pala Compact: The Coming of the 'New Buffalo'

From poverty stricken ghettos to prosperous enterprises, American Indian reservations have been transformed in recent years by the stampede of the `new buffalo'-the lucrative gambling operations on American Indian land.

Family Groups and Subsistence

One of the proposed solutions to the subsistence debate has been to base subsistence eligibility on individual need and issue permits to needy individuals. Another proposal has been to link a subsistence priority to household income, based on an assumption that households with more cash have less need for subsistence.

Deep Ties to Deep Bay: A Tlingit Elder's Training

am 84 years old. I still enjoy traveling each year to my family's subsistence camp and other special places near my home in Sitka to gather traditional cultural foods -- subsistence. According to Tlingit custom, I was trained by my uncles in the traditional ways of subsistence. You might say this was my `Tlingit schooling.' It was oriented around seasonal food gathering activities.

CS in the CLASSROOM - 22.3

On May 27, 1998, Cultural Survival's Education Program held its third annual student conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Gutman Library. Over 200 students and teachers from 10 secondary schools in New England attended to discuss the U'wa's struggle over land issues and oil drilling in Colombia.

Competition, Confrontation, and Compromise: The Politics of Fish and Game Allocations

In the political confrontations to resolve fish and wildlife competition among subsistence, commercial, and sports hunting and fishing interests, Alaska Natives have learned that compromise translates into Native people giving up something they possess while non-Native people give up something they want.

Co-Management and Co-Optation: Alaska Native Participation in Regulatory Processes

Co-management in Alaska is driven by a number of social, political, and economic forces.

Bridging the Past and Future

The lifestyle that my family and I live is a mixture of subsistence and cash economy We earn a living commercial fishing, yet subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering is an integral part of our livelihood.

Being There: The Necessity of Fieldwork

Daniel Bradburd's text, Being There: The Necessity of Fieldwork, is of interest to anthropologists contemplating their first trip into the field, and also to those who are guided by the assumption that anthropological theory and ethnography are inextricably linked.

Andean Lives: Gregorio Condori Mamani and Asunta Quispe Huaman

Andean Lives: Gregorio Condori Mamani and Asunta Quispe Huamán

Alaska Native Subsistence: A Matter of Cultural Survival

Every year tens of thousands of Alaska Natives harvest, process, distribute, and consume millions of pounds of wild animals, fish, and plants through an economy and way of life that has come to be termed `subsistence.' Collectively, these varied subsistence activities constitute a way of being and relating to the world, and thus comprise an essential component of Alaska Native identities and cu

A View from the Yukon Flats: An Interview with Gwich'in Leader Clarence Alexander

In the eastern interior of Alaska, the Yukon River pushes out of Canada and arches above the Arctic Circle through a broad lowland called the Yukon Flats. This is the homeland of the Gwich'in Athabaskans who were among the last Native peoples of North America to have direct contact with Europeans when fur traders established Fort Yukon in 1847.

A Meaningful Voice: Federal Regional Councils and Subsistence Management

Since 1990, when the federal government began to directly manage subsistence wildlife harvests on 200 million acres of federal lands in Alaska, divided management has imposed a heavy burden on traditional hunters in rural Alaska. Land ownership and jurisdiction patterns arbitrarily fragment natural ecological units, habitats, migration paths, and traditional village hunting areas.


Ordinary discourse in Gwich'in Athabascan communities frequently includes the word `subsistence,' but the word itself does not accurately describe most of their social behavior. Activities which also fall into this realm are sharing and trading networks, gift exchanges, and life event celebrations. All of these are linked with hunting, fishing, and harvesting plant materials.

"Reasonable Opportunity" v. "Customary and Traditional" in Lime Village

The Lime Village case (Bobby v. Alaska) has often been a focal point in the subsistence debate in Alaska. The federal court's decision in this case guides the actions of the Federal Subsistence Board to this day.