State of Alaska issues measured point-by-point response to AFN’s accusatory subsistence resolution


The State Attorney General’s office has issued a statement regarding the Alaska Federation of Natives resolution on subsistence preference:

Fisheries management in Alaska is complex. The laws that govern it have created a patchwork State-federal system that unfortunately puts rural residents who need subsistence to survive in the middle of two management regimes. All sides agree the system needs adjusting to bring about more cohesive management and to allow the focus to be where it belongs—maintaining sustainable subsistence fisheries to feed Alaskans. 

In an effort to provide necessary background and context in the understanding of fisheries management and case law, the State is providing the following responses to a draft resolution that was introduced this week by the Alaska Federation of Natives. Resolution 23-01 addresses subsistence fishing by Alaska Native people in Alaska’s navigable waters.

“As State of Alaska commissioners, we recognize and respect the longstanding connection between Alaska Native people and the lands and waters of Alaska, and the history of Alaska Native stewardship of these resources. The State’s priority use of fish and wildlife resource has been and will remain subsistence,” jointly wrote the Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor and the Alaska Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game Doug Vincent-Lang.

“The State of Alaska fervently supports subsistence hunting and fishing rights for Alaskans and will continue to do so. The current problem is that the federal government’s implementation of subsistence favors a few rural subsistence users over all other rural subsistence users – favors a few Alaska Native subsistence users over all other Alaska Native subsistence users – and does so without regard for the health and sustainability of future returns and State sovereignty. The State of Alaska would support congressional fixes in Title VIII so long as those fixes respect the Alaska Constitution, State sovereignty, and the principle of sustained yield for the continued benefit of fish and game subsistence for all Alaskans, now and in the future,”  wrote Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor.

“The State of Alaska takes its responsibility to provide a subsistence priority seriously. Our subsistence statute recognizes the customary and traditional uses of Alaska’s wild resources for subsistence and outlines provisions for the protection of those uses. We have closed or restricted other uses, such as sport or commercial, in times of shortage when subsistence uses would be impacted. We will continue to do so. Our involvement in United States v. Alaska is not an attack on subsistence; rather, we are asserting the rights of all subsistence users to sustainably managed fisheries and game resources, and defending our right to manage Alaska’s fish and game resources that were transferred to Alaska at statehood. We did not initiate this fight. Subsistence fishing is incredibly important for the economies and cultures of many families and communities in Alaska. Protecting fish for future generations of Alaskans is one of the State’s highest priorities. ADF&G has long been committed to providing the research needed for sound fisheries management from both the natural and social sciences in order to fully understand the biology and human dimensions of Alaska’s fish populations and fisheries. As a result, Alaska’s fisheries are recognized as some of the best managed and most sustainable in the world,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Today, the resolution was amended and passed. Among several edits, the words “hunting, trapping and gathering” were added with subsistence and the word “all” was added before Alaska Native during the Be It Resolved ending that asks for protection of all Native and aboriginal hunting and fishing rights by the federal government.

Below are the Whereas clauses followed by the State of Alaska’s responses to those clauses:

AFN Resolution 23-01

WHEREAS: throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the State of Alaska proved itself repeatedly incapable of and unwilling to protect subsistence fishing rights across rural Alaska; and…

Alaska Department of Law and Department of Fish & Game response: State law is clear. Subsistence is our priority use when it comes to our fisheries both before and after the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, ANILCA, section VIII, was enacted. In the 1980s, the State implemented ANILCA’s Title VIII rural subsistence preference until the Alaska Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. The State maintains a robust public process as part of its regulation of fish and game. When discussing the mismanagement of fisheries, we could look back to the period when the federal government had jurisdiction over all fishing activities in Alaska, which had adverse consequences for all fisheries. This circumstance played a prominent role in Alaska’s quest for statehood. Giving control back to the federal government would take it out of the hands of those who are closest to the issue. The State is more nimble in making changes at the request of rural Alaskans and others and has a holistic view of how the various ecosystems impact one another. The State also has a constitutional mandate to provide for the subsistence needs of all Alaskans, not just those who engage in subsistence in federal areas.

WHEREAS: The State of Alaska has escalated its attacks in recent years and has undertaken a series of new, aggressive litigation aimed at actively undermining Alaska Natives’ right to subsistence; and

Law Department and ADFG response: We are disappointed by this characterization of the cases the State of Alaska is involved in. None of these cases seek to undermine the right to subsistence, quite the opposite—subsistence continues to be the first and highest priority for fish and game management. The State is required by the Alaska Constitution to manage for sustained yield, that is the conscious application of management principles intended to sustain the yield of the resource being managed. This is why State management will ensure for the future the principles of sustained yield and access for all subsistence users, whether they are connected to the specific federal areas where the federal government currently asserts management authority or not. If we do not uphold the sustained yield principle, then there will be no future runs, especially to those further upriver.

WHEREAS: In one of those cases, United States v. Alaska, the State of Alaska now attempts to rewrite longstanding law and erase the Katie John decisions; and

Law and ADFG response: The title of the case shows that the State of Alaska did not bring this lawsuit, the federal government did. The State had no interest in revisiting the Katie John case. In fact, when the Sturgeon case was before the U.S. Supreme Court, the State specifically asked the court not to disturb the Katie John decision. The United States initiated this lawsuit, and now the State is compelled to defend itself. And it is important to realize that the federal government’s objective is not limited to implementing the rural subsistence priority to favor some rural Alaskans to the detriment of other rural Alaskans; they also appear to assert total management authority over certain areas. Unfortunately, this case squarely raises the conflicting rulings in Katie John and Sturgeon, namely whether these rivers are public lands as that term is defined in ANILCA. This is a legal issue that can only be resolved by the courts.

WHEREAS: A decision from the United States Supreme Court could mean the elimination of all remaining federally-protected subsistence fishing rights for Alaska Native people at a time of immediate critical need for the rural subsistence priority in times of shortage; and

Law and ADFG response: Again, subsistence is the priority for the State, especially for its rural residents. Federal management, which currently only occurs in waters within and adjacent to federal public lands, currently disenfranchises two key Alaska Native groups.

The first Alaska Native group disenfranchised by federal management: People living upstream of federally managed areas. In 2022 rural residents, including Alaska Native people, on the northern part of the Kuskokwim River got significantly less king salmon (2 fish) than rural users on the southern part of the Kuskokwim (10 fish) because of federal openings on the southern portion of river in which the feds asserted management control. This federal order didn’t help all Alaska Natives or other rural subsistence users—only a select few. The State is the only entity with a view to protect all rural subsistence users. The second Alaska Native group disenfranchised by federal management: Alaska Native people who have left their home village for education, job opportunities or access to health care. Many Alaska Natives have cultural ties to rural fisheries but have been displaced to urban areas of the state. Today, 60 percent of Alaska Native people reside in the state’s urban cities, not its rural villages, and 87 percent live outside of tribal areas. State laws and regulations protecting subsistence fishing for all Alaskans ensure that Alaska Native people can return home to practice their culture and traditions through subsistence fishing. The current reality is that Alaskan Native people who have a historic connection to a rural federal subsistence fishery, like the Kuskokwim River but have been displaced or moved away, violate federal law if they fish during federal subsistence openings. 

WHEREAS: The State’s refusal to protect and honor subsistence fishing practices has created extreme hardship for families and Native communities and a need for congressional intervention to protect Alaska Native fishing rights.

Law and ADFG response: The State is defending this case to protect and honor subsistence fishing practices with the aim of alleviating hardship for families and Native communities. Handing over all management of fishing to the federal government is not the solution and ignores the prior history of federal mismanagement. We can all agree that the current patchwork management is suboptimal. It functioned well when the federal government viewed their role as a partner with the State—but that is no longer the case. We are open to exploring solutions together. But a solution that cuts out anyone living in rural Alaska who is not Alaska Native and cedes all authority to the federal government is a non-starter and is not in the best interest of Alaskans. We respect the Alaska Native connection with the land and waters of this Alaska, and we believe State management, using a holistic approach under the sustained yield principle, best ensures rural residents their right to subsistence for decades to come.

Read FAQs on the Kuskokwim case.

Read Commissioner Vincent-Lang’s sworn declaration.


  1. I don’t know why the state needed a 4 million word dissertation when five gets the job done.

    “Racists make laws about race.”

    • The states game populations are way down compared to 60s and grandfather said there was a lot more game in the 30s. I also know that the interior caribou heard’s are in trouble.

      • More lies from 3rd to push a racist communist agenda. In the book Shadows on the Koyukuk, the Sidney Huntington states in the 20s and 30s moose were almost never seen neither were wolves. So maybe your grampy likes to make up stories like Elizabeth Warren. 2 years ago was an extremely hard winter on all the big ungulates and the interior herds have never been large compared to the Western, Porcupine and slope herds. Why? The interior is more thickly forested which is not conducive to large herds. Some Facts and Truth for a liar like you.

      • Lived in the bush for 15yrs. The reality is, the game management results speak for themselves.

        1. Kick the Feds out of managing our game.
        2. Every resident could fish until their hands fall off and it would not put a dent in the fish population.
        3. A simple hunting substance rule book with about 5 rules would suffice.
        a. No herding
        b. Don’t leave more than the guts and hide when possible.
        c. Take enough to last, but not rot.
        d. Follow all firearm safety rules.
        e. No trespassing on private land.

        I don’t care one way or the other about what AFN or the state has to say about it.

  2. Notice how in the previous months many of the Democrat elite have visited Alaska, northern Alaska in particular. Few of our elected officials have been involved (except for the usual suspects). They had no contact with Gov Dunleavy (for obvious reasons). Native communities need to realize these Democrats are not their friends. They are users with an agenda holding out these initiatives, and money, to lure in the tribes and corporations. Once they’ve been bought, it’s over.

    • Unfortunately, so many of the younger generation in the villages have been raised to think that they are missing out on so much. The demonrats know how to keep that greed and desire at a high level to keep their agenda going. We truly need a miracle to extract the evil from the villages around our state!

  3. Excellent responses to outrageous claims. I thank the state for defending state management from agitator groups and a tyrannical federal government.

  4. The state has and is currently doing a very poor job. No fish is because of too much Commercial fishing period. The bycatch and overfishing has destroyed our resources. Just look at PWS and the lack of halibut and shrimp. Why does fish and game let shrimp get harvested when they carry eggs? Why does commercial halibut fishing allowed inside the sound why does fish and game let bycatch of kings in Cook Inlet? The whole thing is Controlled by commercial fishermen.

    • You left out the billion+ hatchery pink fry released into PWS to fuel the commfish fleet that are systematically wiping out all the other salmon species. Cheers –

    • The comm fish lobby is strong and well funded. They dangle money in front of legislators to get comm fish folks on the Board of Fish. As well, to KEEP non comm fish candidates OFF the BoF.

    • I don’t know how much is controlled by the commercial fishing industry; but, it is amazing how they always seem to get first dibs. A lot of foreign money dumped in to keep that industry going? I’d rather see emphasis placed on personal fishing at this time in the game. We need to quit supplying food to other countries when our own country is hurting.

    • You neglect the foreign trawlers lurking in key areas where the salmon stage to swim upriver – we’re not regulating or enforcing our territorial water.

  5. Jesus. That document is as long as it is stupid.

    Let me rewrite it in a way everyone can understand. With zero whereasis.

    Here goes.

    To the AFN regarding your idiotic demand to exclude people who don’t look like you from subsistence living.

    F you and the moose you road in on.

    Signed, everyone else in Alaska.

      • Lighten up, Francis.

        I know exactly what both phrases mean. Not only as I smarter than you, I also have a sense of humor.

        You, apparently, are so deep in a cranial rectal inversion the lack of air catching is catching up to your brain.

        The only person embarrassing themselves in the public square is the one you see in the mirror.

        To quote a famous line from the movie Stripes (lacking a sense of humor you probably never saw it)…

        Lighten up, Francis.

        • Winged Warrior, or Chickenman, AKA Masked Avenger.
          Sir, when calling out someone like Coogan, especially on a grammatical issue, it would serve your interest to properly police your sentence structure.
          I refer to ” as I smarter than you”.
          Obviously your point was, I am smarter than you, however it didn’t quite come through with the clarity or dare I say the power that you intended ot to have.

          Keep trying MA, as Winston Churchill once said, ” never surrender”.

          Oh, and picking a fight with Wayne on almost any subject is an uphill battle. I’ve rarely seen Wayne bested jn an intellectual argument during our 56 year friendship Meaning you better pull out yer ” A” game real quick.

          We’re in this together MA, and I’m pulling for you!

          Let the feathers fly!

      • You accusing anyone besides the man in your mirror of hatred and racism is rich.

        Especially since you’re not smart enough to catch the irony.

  6. Huh.

    Hunting and fishing preferences.

    Rural energy assistance.

    Essentially free HUD/BIA housing programs.

    Quest Card galore.

    Free healthcare.

    Free travel to and back for healthcare.

    Illegal preference (affirmative action) for advanced collegiate programs.

    Legalized hiring and employment discrimination by native corporations.

    Uh, what else is it that is wanted?

    Besides a sense of shame. That is what is needed.

    • Been to over 20 villages. Shame is noticeably absent. They are excellent in teaching the opposing fact. Pride.

    • Free broadband subsidized by the other Alaskans.

      The bottom line is that animals cycle. Moose habitat is affected for the good by wildfires and bad by severe winters, especially deep snow and predation by Brown and Black bears and wolves. Man plays a relative miniscule role in the “circle of life”. Man can effectively reduce predator species if allowed to. Unfortunately, the left doesn’t want any predator targeted reductions.
      Caribou are similar affected by predation and somewhat by weather. Tundra can be overgrazed. I am not aware of any published catalog of tundra conditions. The availability of Caribou to various regions is greatly affected by the migrations that may limit availability to river villages to only a few weeks a year.

      Now to the legal aspects of this issue. The US constitution does NOT make a provision for resource allocation based on residence location and definitely not for ethnicity or religion. States have been able to limit residents from other states when they have determined that is in the interest in their citizens. NO state has given a preference to any constituency among their state, EXCEPT for Alaska. I contend this is not a constitutional law and was forced by ANILCA and not adequately challenged by the state.
      As it stands non residents are allowed to hunt or apply for permits in all hunts in the state without any limitation. For example several western states cap nonresident hunters at from 1 to 18 percent of all of their hunt species. The board of game has always favored guides and so we still have essentially unlimited competition from non residents. There are some restrictions in unit 17 along the river systems but not unit wide and planes landing on lakes or ridges can access much of the same population of game.
      It is time, past time to start to limit non residents but this must be tempered by the fact that many non residents are not hunting in population depressed areas.
      Finally, the market really does control the perceived competition in rural areas, no one is going to spend the 2 to 5 thousand dollars to fly to a regional hub and then air charter to the hunting area if their chance at success is poor. BTW the tier 2 system in the road accessible units is a scam. Anyone who can drive their vehicle to the parking lot and unload their atv to get back 30 miles to hunt can drive that same vehicle to Fairbanks or Palmer to access the Fred Meyer.
      All of these problems were precipitated by the Federal Government’s ignoring the US constitution when ANILCA was implemented.
      Natives can and do restrict not members from their corporation lands. They should invest in wildlife management educations for interested members at universities and MANAGE the resource on their lands.
      It isn’t all going to produce oil or gold mines.

  7. What was the idea? That’s what’s been bothering me, boys. I tell ya: when I used to think of the idea itself, it put a big ol’ smile on my face. -top dollar, the crow.

  8. I guess we should probably apologize for dragging the Natives out of the stone age, too. I will support subsistence living for Natives when they give up high powered rifles, snow machines and electric freezers. Until then, I was born and raised her and I am just as Alaskan as anyone. Racism is an ugly look.

  9. Sorry to see the dems are winning over the natives to their “Identity” politics. If they want to see where it will end, look no further than those “great democratic states” of New York and California. Both are in the tank, and California has tens of thousands leaving every year. Natives while you have the chance, ditch your woke leadership and relearn to work with the rest of Alaskans in a subsistence livelihood and figure out how to husband the resources to meet your needs together. Divided, your are conquered, united you stand free. And the more federal “assistance, the more federal “laws”. Stay free while you still can.

  10. Lived in the bush for 15yrs. The reality is, the game management results speak for themselves.

    1. Kick the Feds out of managing our game.
    2. Every resident could fish until their hands fall off and it would not put a dent in the fish population.
    3. A simple hunting substance rule book with about 5 rules would suffice.
    a. No herding
    b. Don’t leave more than the guts and hide when possible.
    c. Take enough to last, but not rot.
    d. Follow all firearm safety rules.
    e. No trespassing on private land.

    I don’t care one way or the other about what AFN or the state has to say about it.

  11. Agree Tamera, everyone in the state should get subsistence. If you get a subsistence hunt/fish permit then you must walk, canoe, raft or fish wheel. I’ve seen, after living here in the Copper Basin for 60 yrs, the increased hunting/fish pressures. Whites and native alike use 4 wheelers, air/jet boats, side buys, and now extreme shallow rafts from Russia. Areas that where a retreat for fish and game are no longer. If you want a subsistence permit, use no motorized. For those that choose motorized 50”, 4 brow tine, etc. This would help our game and, I believe, our non subsistence users as the non trophy animals will have less pressure. Also community harvest needs to go.

  12. What happened to government-to-government collaboration?

    Attorney general opinion WL 43801 “…The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state and ‘the legal advisor of the governor and other state officers.’ AS 44.23.020(a) As such, he is duty bound to assist the governor in the faithful execution of the laws…” Alaska Const., Article III Sec. 16. “The first allegiance of the Attorney General is to the public interest…”

    Does the Governor and Attorney General have a duty in protecting our Constitutional rights to remedy a wrong that has happened to a citizen? SCO 1993 severed every Alaskans constitutional right to remedy a wrong that has happened to him/her within a court of law. Fish and fishing rights are important. What about our children and grandchildren? Presentation by Alaska’s Citizens Review Panel Report and Kim Guay from the Department of Family and Community Services OCS
    ‘ gives an explanation.

    A parent and/or a relative of a Native child needs money to hire an attorney to fight for his/her child(ren) or grandchild(ren). Money is needed to fight for his/her way of life, and his/her right to go before a grand jury to remedy a wrong(s) that has ruptured their family.

    I’m an Alaska Native. Subsistence gathering/harvesting, and commercial fishing is of great importance to many of us. We depend on these foods and the income from commercial fishing to feed our families and pay our monthly living expenses. Many of us use our own income to pay attorney fees to protect our rights, our children and grandchildren.

    The Department of Fish & Game Commissioner Vincent-Lang needs to read Technical Paper No. 343 published by the Division of Subsistence. Also, listen to the testimony of many Alaskan Natives and non-Natives that testified at the Board of Fish. What remedy took place in 2011?

    Our children and grandchildren are of great importance and yet there are many Alaskan Natives trying to get our children back.

    How can the faithful execution of the laws be upheld when the DOL is not equipped to handle a request(s)? Does the DOL like OCS need money for the department? How can our right to remedy a wrong that has happened to an individual(s) be corrected when SCO 1993 severed our right to go before a grand jury Article I Sec. 8?

    There is no remedy. There is no government-to-government collaboration. There is no regulation providing legal expenses for me to ensure that the faithful execution of the laws are upheld within a court of law in Alaska.

    The Anti-Discrimination Act was passed in 1945 in the whole Territory of Alaska. Yet, today there is no equality and justice for all. Congress needs to identify a crystal clear roadmap that shall ensure equality and justice for all in the great mandatory P.L. 280 State of Alaska.

  13. Question to the O’ Mighty AG Tayler & his Henchman Vincent-Lang : If your high & mighty fight for supremacy in the Name of “State Sovereignty Control” is in Alaska’s Best interests then why have you introduced a Regulations change to provide you elites free (state paid for) Legal cost if some Citizen or other entity sues you? What about us peons? Like, Thomas Jack rotting away in Southeast Jail ,due to “Ineffective assistance of counsel ” that you would never happen to you or ever get ?
    Why is it that you fail to be “Bonded under State Statute Currently in effect : AS 39.05.050 & As 39.15.010 – 100 ” ?

    Just guessing that maybe so that accountability doesn’t happen to privileged class ? Wouldn’t you & your other Governor’s pollical appointees first following State Law and honor your Oath’s whereby being more important then Fighting with another Sovereign.
    Hey, Treg come clean now! Enforce the laws as duty of office requires. The State Courts / Alaska Bar Association can’t protect you forever!

  14. The globalists are achieving their goal of creating division in this state using a bunch of people in villages that are enjoying having more money and more power thanks to an illegal government who they think cares for them. We have to figure out how to deal with these topics without feeding into the globalist lust for division and hatred. Remember the movie, ‘Monster Inc.’ where the monsters were supposed to frighten children in their dreams to capture the children’s frightened feelings? Just like with all this division and hatred going on – we are feeding the monster demons by fighting and hating.

  15. I lived 33 years in a Bush village. Lot of ignorance, racism (on all sides), and blather here, especially in these comments. The federal interference in game and fish management has got us where we are today. Caribou are not endangered, but we have 10x too many wolves. Feds imported wolves in 1994 “to restore the ‘natural’ predator/prey balance,” then eliminated the most effective way of wolf control (aerial) – shear stupidity. Their interference has resulted in migration changes and wolves in the villages eating sled dogs and pets. There are no fish in the Yukon & Koyukuk because of federal policies – resulting in bears eating bird seeds in our feeders (I have photos…).
    Get the feds out of Alsaka resource management.

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