Is Ketchikan rural? Federal Subsistence Board considers reclassification request by Ketchikan Indian Community


A movement by the Ketchikan Indian Community to have Ketchikan reclassified federally as a rural area is the topic of a federal hearing on Wednesday evening that has the community in southern Southeast Alaska abuzz.

Ketchikan Indian Community has asked the Federal Subsistence Board to retract the non rural classification of Alaska’s First City. This would have implications for the distribution of fish and game in the area, with preference for rural residents.

The hearing is at 6 pm at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, and an additional hearing will take place in Klawock at a later time.

In March of 2022, KIC passed a resolution declaring its territory as rural, “to the greatest extent allowed under federal law, all lands, islands, waters, airspace, and surface and subsurface interests located within the current geographic boundaries of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.”

The request to the Federal Subsistence Board, a function of the Department of Interior, says that the population for the Ketchikan area has declined in each of the last three censuses. 

Further, the organization says that there are other factors “creating pressure on food security for our isolated community including the loss of one of three local primary food vendors, COVD-19, inflation in food prices, fuel prices, and the constriction of the supply chain discussed in more detail below.”

“Ketchikan lies on the traditional territory of the Tlingit Aani, specifically the lands of the Saanya Kwaan and Tanta Kwaan. Ketchikan has a long­ standing history of Indigenous occupation well before colonizers ever stepped foot in Alaska. The community of Ketchikan (which is a Tlingit word that roughly translates to the ‘Thundering wings of an Eagle.’), and its home on Revillagegado Island are essentially separated and isolated from the rest of
the world. Ketchikan – a community that is comparable in size to both Sitka and Kodiak, Alaska and smaller in population that Bethel, Alaska, all three of which enjoy FSB’s rural designation – is heavily reliant on the natural resources in our immediate area including fish, wildlife, and terrestrial/aquatic plants. Whether indigenous or not, the residents of Ketchikan have strong ties to the food resources that can be gathered here. The area that we are proposing for rural status designation includes the entirety of Revillagegado Island, Pennock Island, Gravina Island, the southern portion of Cleveland Peninsula, and the surrounding waters in this area. This area is the footprint of both Ketchikan Indian Community and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough,” the proposal reads.

Ketchikan was a more populated community until the federal government ended commercial logging in Southeast Alaska through the Tongass Roadless Rule, which made the timber industry all but disappear. It is currently home to about 8,200 people and has a vibrant fishing and tourism economy, and is also the home of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The proposal to the Department of Interior:


  1. All of Southeast Alaska should be reclassified as “rural” in subsistence and otherwise for all purposes of living. I know because I use to live thre.

  2. I am never surprised by this sort of thing, but begging for a rural subsistence priority because of “COVID-19, (price) inflation, and constriction of the supply chain…?? I am surprised, however, that the KIC proposal neglected to include “death and taxes” as deciding factors.

    This entire subsistence imbroglio is a disgrace to all of us Alaskans, who should be united as one people. We are not governed by clearly written law, but by the DC political knuckleheads and the magisteriums of federal judges.

  3. So they admit the “natives” are occupiers of land once held by nature. Their word, not mine.

    Sounds like they should pull up stakes and leave, if they actually mean what they say.

    Racial whining aside, by the rest of the nation’s standards Ketchikan is rural. By ours, not at all.

  4. I live on farm land in the Valley. Nowhere else on Earth would this be labeled “urban”. In fact, the definition of ‘rural’ is “in, relating to, or characteristic of the countryside rather than the town”. If you live within a city’s limit (Anchorage, Wasilla, Palmer, Ketchikan, Craig, Kotzebue, etc), you live in a city or “town”. This entire subsistence nightmare was created to calm the unreasonable fears of aboriginal Alaskans, and it has been driven to the point of utter insanity. But we are nowhere near the bottom. The subsistence terrorists will not stop until it is a racial priority, 14th Amendment be damned.

  5. If they want this then they need to give up fossil fuels, snow machines, boats, electricity, food made by a factory, modern conveniences like washers, dryers house, heat cars, and anything else that they’ve acquired from modern man.

      • Because if they want to go the “muh ancestors” route, they should have all of it and not just the convenient parts.

          • Why indeed Greg?! Why am I supplementing “rural” Alaskan’s fuel and electric costs when I live on the road system? I know a whole bunch of “rural” Alaskans, many married and double income government retirees, who are fairly to very wealthy yet still receive the well intentioned hand-outs meant for those less able to pay. That’s why Greg. Why should someone from Cooper Landing (median income $65K) have priority access to harvest public trust resources than say, someone from Moose Pass? Hand outs are hand outs and appeal to base greed. Just the way the feds want it. And apparently you want it that way too.

    • Modern man? So what are the natives then? Non-modern man? By your rationale, you should also go back to giving up all modern conveniences then as well. You didn’t invite the ICE vehicle did you? How about factory food? No? How about electricity? No? If not, then shut your piehole and get a clue about what customary and traditional uses means. Hint: its not a static thing. Just like your ancestors went from stone tools to bronze to iron and so on, so did the native Americans.

  6. Ketchikan has a Safeway and a walmart, jet service, service by two separate ferry systems, two coast guard ships at least one NOAA Ship and a large national guard armory…a fine hospital and lots of employment options.

    Rural? Hardly.

  7. Cooper Landing and Moose Pass are on the Kenai and you can drive to them. And guess what, they’re both classified as rural.

  8. It’s just more of the federal “divide and conquer” tactic designed to appeal to greed and create an ex-officio designation of second class citizens for those not deemed rural. The end game is that anyone not deemed “rural” by the bureaucratic oligarchs can stand in line for leftover public trust resources. And all defined by arbitrary lines drawn on a map. Ninilchik and Cooper Landing come to mind. If the Feds can keep us vying against each other while some people lick the boot for their favor, we don’t focus on how they’re screwing us over on a daily basis. Perfect strategy for growing fascism and control.

    • The rural priority is based on need. I don’t NEED to go out and hunt to get enough to eat since I live in Anchorage. I have hunted often in the past because I chose to do so. Everything I need, I can buy here. People that live in cities CHOOSE to go hunting because they like doing so, which is fine by me, but they don’t have to in order to survive. Those that live in rural communities do have that need. Not sure why that’s so difficult to understand. The lines drawn are not arbitrary as you claim but are based on a detailed analysis of the resources available and the dynamics of the human population and history of resource use in the area. You might know that if you would actually take the time to educate yourself about the process.

Comments are closed.