Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 15
--> 2 Description of the Region and Fishery To evaluate the potential effects of the community development program on the communities in western Alaska, it is essential to first understand the underlying biological, social, and economic conditions. In many respects, these conditions are unique to the region, which have implications for the transferability of the Community Development Quota (CDQ) concept. This chapter provides an overview of the biological conditions of the Bering Sea fisheries, the social history of the region, and the structure and historical development of the fishing industry in the region. This sets the stage for more detailed discussions of the CDQ program (Chapter 3), the committee's evaluation (Chapter 4), and discussions of applicability of the approach in other regions (Chapter 5). Biology The Bering Sea is bordered by the Seward and Chukchi Peninsulas in the north, by the Kamchatka Peninsula in the west, and the Aleutian Islands in the south and southwest. This sea covers 3 million km2, and one of its most unusual features is the extremely wide continental shelf, which makes the region an extremely productive ecosystem. The high productivity of the Bering Sea ecosystem exists despite the seasonal ice cover and limited light during the winter. Primary productivity on the southeast Bering Sea shelf is spatially variable and is highly episodic. Spring blooms are associated with the ice edge and with thermal stratification. In most oceanic ecosystems the primary production is consumed in the water column, and in many cases the nutrients are recycled within the top part of the water column. One unusual feature of the shallow Bering Sea shelf ecosys-
OCR for page 16
--> tem is that much of the annual production escapes the water column consumers to feed a benthic system unusual in its amount of secondary productivity. Once it becomes part of the benthic system, this material is often slow to recycle because it becomes incorporated into long-lived benthic animals. An important additional factor in the high productivity of the southeastern Bering Sea shelf is the transport of nutrients onto the shelf from deeper water, which augments those nutrients generated locally (NRC, 1996; Sambrotto et al., 1986). This dependence could cause problems in the future for any change in the circulation of the Bering Sea, for example, a climate change could alter this transport. The high primary productivity of the Bering Sea supports large numbers of birds, mammals, and fishes. There are some 50 commercially important fish species and at least 50 species of marine mammals. The fisheries in the region are some of the most abundant and productive in the world, especially for groundfish, halibut, salmon, and crab. Groundfish species in the Bering Sea include the walleye pollock, Pacific cod, several flatfish and rockfish species, and sablefish. Walleye pollock is an important species both as a predator and as a food source for other fish in its juvenile stage. Adult pollock are a major commercial asset for the United States, and they are marketed as fillets for a variety of products and as a minced and processed fish product known as surimi. Pollock roe are harvested during the winter, and are particularly valuable as an export to Asia, where they are considered a delicacy. The increase in human activity and natural climate variability in the Bering Sea region have resulted in massive, if sometimes poorly documented, changes in the ecosystem over the last 50 years (NRC, 1996). Changes in the physical environment acting in concert with human exploitation of predators (whales, fish) have caused a shift in the abundance and distribution of many top predators and have caused pollock to dominate the ecosystem (NRC, 1996). These same changes also have resulted in dramatic fluctuations in the crab populations, as well as declines in some key marine mammal populations (NRC, 1996). The domestic fisheries in the region are generally fully developed and most fisheries managers and economists consider them overcapitalized—that is, there are more boats and harvesting capability than available fish (NRC, 1996). Maintaining sustainable fishery populations, reducing bycatch of non-target species, and the minimizing negative impacts of the fishery on the marine mammal and sea bird populations are the most important biological issues that need to be addressed. These issues were of central concern to Congress in the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (i.e., the Sustainable Fisheries Act). From the perspective of the CDQ program, some researchers contend that the ecosystem is very heavily exploited, and it seems extremely unlikely that the Bering Sea can sustain current rates of exploitation while also allowing the recovery of endangered species, especially large populations of marine birds and mammals (NRC, 1996). If the long-term goal of management is to maintain top-level predators, some fishing may have to be reduced. This emphasizes the need for
OCR for page 17
--> The sea has long been an essential source of food and other resources to the peoples of the Bering Sea region. In this 1984 photograph, Ella Tulik is drying herring using traditional techniques. (Photo by James Barker and provided courtesy of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Contemporary Art Bank.)
OCR for page 18
--> for consideration of adaptive approaches to management (NRC, 1996) and may involve compromises that impinge on fishery resources. This issue is addressed in Chapter 4. Cultural Aspects Of Bering Sea Fisheries The goal of the CDQ program is to improve the social and economic conditions in rural coastal communities. Understanding the relationship that has developed between Alaska Natives and the use of marine resources is a key component in evaluating the potential impacts of the CDQ program on these communities. This section provides background on these historical relationships, and is followed by a consideration of the ways a CDQ program could enhance these relationships. Importance of Marine Resources to Native Communities The prehistory and history of the indigenous peoples of the coastal margin and islands of the eastern Bering Sea are intimately tied to the utilization of the marine resources. This section provides a short introduction to the indigenous peoples and cultures of the eastern Bering Sea region, including a synopsis of the archeological evidence for occupation and resource use in the region, the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the region at the time of European contact in the 18th century, and some crucial cultural ideologies related to traditional use of resources. The historical changes associated with the coming of the commercial fishing industry to the region in the 20th century are also discussed. Prehistory Present information suggests that the earliest occupation of this coastal region occurred shortly after the onset of the Holocene and after sea levels had risen significantly (approximately 10,000 BP) (Table 2.1). The oldest sites of habita- TABLE 2.1 Sites of Earliest Human Occupation of the Eastern Coastal Bering Sea Region Area Earliest Date Site Source Aleutian Islands 8700 B.P. Anangula Island Laughlin, 1980 Alaska Peninsula 5100 B.P. Ugashik Knoll Dumond, 1984 Western Bristol Bay 4800 B.P. Security Cove Ackerman, 1964 Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta 1200 B.P. Manokinak Shaw, 1983 Norton Sound 4150 B.P. Cape Denbigh Ackerman, 1984 St. Lawrence Island 2100 B.P. Punuk Island Ackerman, 1984
OCR for page 19
--> tion in the region are found in the Aleutian Islands in nearshore coastal areas, but evidence for occupation in the other parts of the eastern Bering Sea indicate a gradual and uneven process, both in terms of population and the people's cultural adaptations to the area. Since archeological research in this region is both difficult (particularly in the marshy delta of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers) and limited, these dates should be regarded with caution. There are several significant characteristics of the Bering Sea ecosystem that vary as one moves from north to south. One variation is the occurrence of winter pack ice. This occurs from the Bering Strait south to approximately Cape Newenham, but can extend further south to the vicinity of Port Moller during exceptionally cold winters (NRC, 1996). The Aleutian Islands, however, always remain ice free, a fact that allows the harvest of intertidal resources along the archipelago and thus provides a significant resource for inhabitants of the region (NRC, 1996). A second characteristic is the variation in the nature of the food sources available along the southern edge of the Bering Sea: both salmon and caribou, major resources available to mainland groups, are absent from or rare west from Unimak Island and on St. Lawrence Island (Laughlin 1980, Jorgensen 1990). Finally, virtually all of the societies of the eastern Bering Sea coast were dependent on the annual migrations of species that were abundant for relatively short periods each year, especially walrus, bowhead whale, salmon, and waterfowl. Harvests of these species focused on gathering a surplus that could be used during the winter and distributed at ceremonial feasts through a wide network of local kinsmen (Langdon, 1987a). Strategies of Adaptation Two general trends are apparent in the human occupation of the north: sedentary occupations came earlier in the south and adaptation strategies became increasingly complex through time. There are several distinct strategies of adaptation to marine resources apparent in the record of cultural development. The first strategy of human adaptation to the eastern Bering Sea coastal environment, apparent at the Anangula Island site in the Aleutian Islands on the southern boundary of the eastern Bering Sea about 8,700 years ago, is one of a mixed subsistence (Laughlin, 1980). The inhabitants made substantial use of the rich intertidal resources of the area, including shellfish, sea urchins, chitons, seaweeds, birds, fish, and sea mammals. The second strategy, appearing on the Alaska Peninsula around 5,100 years ago, along the Brooks River drainage, is a riverine pattern in which salmon resources were apparently combined with caribou harvests to provide sustenance (Dumond, 1984). A third strategy, found in the Cape Denbigh region in Norton Sound and initially used approximately 4150 B.P. relied on winter use of seals by hunting them through the pack ice (Ackerman, 1984).
OCR for page 20
--> With this innovation, the human occupation of the high Arctic became possible and human expansion pushed eastward to Greenland. A fourth strategy was used on St. Lawrence Island, in the period around 2100 B.P. A major innovative leap was made allowing group harvesting and sharing of large sea mammals such as walrus and bowhead whale—a strategy used by the northwest Alaska Eskimo populations (Dumond, 1984). Finally, a diversified mobile strategy developed a little over a thousand years ago in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta, combining the harvesting of many resources, including migratory waterfowl, small freshwater fish, small sea mammals, and herring in certain locations. This strategy made possible the permanent occupation of this last, difficult region (Shaw, 1983). Linguistic Groups and Cultural Patterns In the 18th century when the Russians, and later other Europeans, first came to the eastern Bering Sea, five linguistic groups were distributed along the coast and in the islands (Langdon, 1987a). These groups shared (to a certain degree) cultural strategies of communal interdependence and spiritual beliefs about the interdependence of animals and humans. Aleut speakers (or Unangan—the term of self-identification in their language) occupied the entire Aleutian Archipelago as well as the Shumagin Islands in the North Pacific Ocean and the Alaska Peninsula east to Port Moller (Laughlin, 1980). West of Unimak Island, the Aleuts were predominantly marine mammal hunters (sea lions and harbor seals) and fishermen (halibut and cod). From Unimak Island eastward, they made use of salmon and caribou; marine mammal hunting and saltwater fishing were of less importance. The Aleut people were devastated by the Russian occupation in the 18th and 19th centuries, but they have persisted on their traditional lands in spite of various setbacks (Laughlin, 1980). Alutiiq speakers (a Yup'ik Eskimo language spoken primarily on Kodiak Island and in the Prince William Sound region) occupied the Bering Sea shore of the Alaska Peninsula from just above Port Moller to about the Naknek River (Clark, 1984). The Alutiiq were primarily riverine salmon fisherman who also hunted small marine mammals (seals) and caribou. Alutiiq speakers are presently found at Meshik (Port Heiden) and Pilot Point, and they have strong cultural ties with communities around Chignik Lake and Chignik Lagoon (Clark, 1984). Central Yup'ik speakers (practicing several dialectical variants) occupied the coast of Bristol Bay eastward and northward through the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region into the eastern portion of Norton Sound. These people used a variety of subsistence strategies depending on the abundance and availability of resources. Along the major rivers (Kvichak, Nushagak, Kuskokwim, and Yukon) they harvested and dried salmon and supplemented their diets with caribou, migratory waterfowl, freshwater fish, berries, and other resources (Van Stone, 1984). Along the coast away from the salmon streams, small marine mammal
OCR for page 21
--> hunting was combined with herring fishing, freshwater fishing, migratory waterfowl hunting, and berry gathering (Van Stone, 1984). Inupiaq speakers (northern Eskimo language) occupied the northern and western shore of Norton Sound and the small islands in the vicinity of Bering Strait (King Island, Sledge Island, and Little Diomede Island) (Ray, 1975). Along the mainland, groups combined fishing and hunting of small sea mammals (supplemented by an occasional beluga whale) and caribou. On the islands, Inupiaq speakers were predominantly marine mammal hunters who took walrus, bowhead whale, and seals and did some saltwater fishing for cod (Ray, 1975). Siberian Yup'ik speakers occupied St. Lawrence Island and were in close contact with their Siberian Yup'ik residents on the Siberian mainland at East Cape and in periodic conflict with the Chukchi reindeer herders of the Chukotsk peninsula (Jorgensen, 1990). The Sivukaqmiut of St. Lawrence Island were large marine mammal hunters who acquired the majority of their foodstuffs and materials from harvests of walrus and bowhead whale. Seals and cod were supplementary resources (Jorgensen, 1990). Cultural ideologies among all groups placed great importance on the acquisition of skills to enable them to effectively provide resources necessary to sustain their families. There was a clear division of labor between men and women. The acquisition of hunting and fishing skills was stressed among males. For females, skills in processing and storing food, sewing skins for clothing and for the covers of the vessels used by the men to hunt and fish were stressed (Clark, 1984). In the case of the Aleut, the predominant hunting orientation was the baidarka (kayak) manned by a single hunter (Clark, 1984). Among the Alutiiq and Central Yup'ik, the orientation was toward two men working as partners hunting together and sharing together as a unit, usually under the guidance of elders and shamans who shared their knowledge of the animal behavior to assist the younger hunters in their endeavors (Clark, 1984). Among the Inupiaq and the Siberian Yup'ik, coordinated units of 6 to 8 men successfully pursued large marine mammals such as walrus and bowhead whale using 20- to 30-foot open skin boats (Clark, 1984). Strategies combining competition and status with cooperation helped ensure the successful capture, landing, and rapid use of these large marine mammals. Sharing and generosity were valued and practiced in these societies. Leaders sought to demonstrate their worthiness by sharing the products of their efforts widely among the people. The underlying spiritual and cosmological system of the groups stressed the interdependence of people and the resources that maintained them. Both human and animal life forms were thought to be cycled (reincarnated) from this world to the spirit world on death, and then returned from the spirit world to this world by birth (Fitzhugh and Kaplan, 1982; Fienup-Riordan, 1983). Animals were conceptualized as sentient non-human beings capable of recognizing human beings and their behavior. Animals made a conscious decision to deliver themselves to certain human groups based on their previous treatment by these groups (Fienup-Riordan, 1994).
OCR for page 22
--> Perhaps the most dramatic representation of the mutual dependence of humans and animals is demonstrated by the Nakaciuq (Bladder Feast) of the Central Yup'ik (Fienup-Riordan, 1983; Morrow, 1984). The Central Yup'ik believe that the spirit/life force of the seal is found in the bladder of each animal. When seals are killed, the bladders are stored in the qasgiq (ceremonial house) until the time of the feast in the ceremonial season (Cauyarnariuq—Season of the Drum) in the winter (Morrow, 1984). Then under the leadership of the shaman, the bladders, which are symbolic of wombs, are returned to the ocean where it is thought they will return to their homes beneath the ocean to be reborn. If they have been satisfactorily treated with respect by the humans, that is, the humans have demonstrated their worthiness, then the animals will return and once again give themselves to the human beings (Morrow, 1984). The animals judged the worthiness of humans by the humans' willingness to share the fruits of the animals' gifts among each other. This ceremonial giving became a source of cultural conflict when Euroamerican missionaries entered the central Yup'ik region and sought to modify their cultural pattern from one of communal interdependence to one modeled after Euroamerican and Judeo-Christian notions of familial independence. The European model never quite took hold, however. The Modern Era The various linguistic groups had remarkably different historical experiences since the coming first of European and later American influences to the region. Two sources of variation are particularly noticeable. The experiences of Alaska Natives are strongly affected both by the timing of initial Euroamerican contact and by the degree to which market-oriented economic development penetrated the community. The variations seen in these two dimensions are substantial and provide insight into the present conditions of peoples in the different areas. Experience of the Unangan/Aleut The Unangan were the first to encounter substantial European presence with the arrival of the Russian promyshlenniki (industrialists) in the middle of the 18th century. The Russians abducted Unangan wives and children, and thus coerced the Unangan men into harvesting sea otter and fur seal for the Russians. Through a combination of disease, warfare, and starvation, the Unangan were reduced from an estimated population of 12,000-15,000 to 2,000-3,000 in less than a century (Laughlin, 1980). Their traditional culture was radically altered and they took on a new identity, as Aleut, with the Russian Orthodox faith as a core foundation of the new culture. The culture evolved into a combination of marine mammal hunting for trade and subsistence purposes, and this strategy sustained Aleuts throughout their range until the latter part of the 19th century. In the late 19th century, two commercial fishing enterprises based in the
OCR for page 23
--> Seattle, Washington, area began to appear along the western North Pacific Ocean coast and in the eastern portion of Bristol Bay. The first of these was the salt cod industry that began in the late 1870s, bringing Scandinavian dory fishermen to various fishing stations in the Shumagin Islands out to Sanak Island and up to Port Moller (Laughlin, 1980). Some of these fishermen remained and married eastern Aleut women, establishing new families in communities such as Unga, Pirate's Cove, Sanak, Pauloff Harbor, and Squaw Harbor (Laughlin, 1980). These fishermen and their industry did not penetrate as far west as Akutan, so that the western Aleuts retained the more traditional identity and cultural orientation. The second commercial fishing development was the movement of the salmon processing industry, dominated by the canning sector, into Bristol Bay and the Alaska Peninsula in the late 1880s (Jones, 1976; and Van Stone, 1967). This was a massive incursion brought on by huge capital investments in plants, equipment, and vessels by Euroamerican firms. The canned salmon industry expanded as far west as False Pass, but the lack of significant salmon runs further out the chain limited the expansion in that direction. The canned salmon industry was well established along the east and north shores of Bristol Bay by the mid-1890s (Van Stone, 1967). In 1942, the Japanese invaded the islands of the Western Aleutians and Pribilof Aleuts. Some residents from the westernmost inhabited Aleutian Island (Atka) were captured and transported as prisoners of war to Japan. The United States relocated other western Aleuts to camps in abandoned canneries in southeast Alaska, where they received poor housing and food. Meanwhile their communities were looted by U.S. troops, so that upon their return, their homes were virtually unlivable. This massive trauma was the subject of a major congressional hearing and reparations were subsequently paid to the western and Pribilof Aleuts for their mistreatment (Kohlhoff, 1995). The impact of these cultural developments on later generations of Aleuts in the two areas encouraged the development of fishery-oriented communities, with males adopting commercial fishing as a new identity and lifestyle (Jones, 1976). In the post-World War II economy, the Aleuts in the east were able to position themselves as important participants in the salmon harvesting sector after the ban of floating fish traps in 1959. In the 1960s, the experience the Aleuts had gained in the waters of the central Gulf of Alaska provided them with a foothold when the crab industry began to expand. This commercial fishing heritage did not develop in the Aleut communities of Unalaska and west, nor in the Pribilof Islands. Due to limited education and off-island exposure, few Pribilof Aleuts left the island permanently prior to World War II. Until the early 1980s, the Pribilof Island Aleuts continued their lifestyle tied to the fur seal harvest and processing, first for private companies and later as wards of the federal government (Jones, 1980). There was no development of commercial fishing or deep sea familiarity among the Pribilof Aleuts, although they did maintain some nearshore fishing for subsistence.
OCR for page 24
--> Experience of the Bristol Bay Yup'ik and Alutiiq The effects of early Russian fur trading and later Euroamerican commercial fishing development on the Bristol Bay Yup'ik and Alutiiq provides a contrast to the Unangan/Aleut experience (Van Stone, 1967). On the eastern shore, early penetration of Alutiiq and several Yup'ik speaking villages by Russian fur traders led to substantial population reduction and a remnant population that adopted Russian Orthodoxy and in some cases took on a new identity as Aleut. This self-identification can still be seen in the 1980 and 1990 census records from the communities from Pilot Point to Iliamna. However, west of Lake Iliamna, where Yup'ik speaking and identifying groups occupy areas near the Nushagak, Igushik, and Togiak Rivers, more of their cultural heritage was preserved. The Nushagak River villagers are dialectically somewhat different from those to the west and term themselves the Kiatagmiut. From the village of Alegnagik westward, villagers speak Yup'ik forms more closely related to those of the Lower Kuskokwim groups. It appears that a wave of Lower Kuskokwim groups moved into western Bristol Bay following substantial population decline in that area in the early 19th century. The canned salmon industry entered Bristol Bay in the 1890s to exploit the sockeye salmon runs returning to the lakes of the region. On the eastern shore, where development first took place, cannery owners were reluctant to hire Alaska Native workers because they could not leave if the work was not suitable; other workers were obliged to the canneries for transportation (Van Stone, 1967). The canneries in Dillingham and much later at Togiak, primarily used imported Italian and Scandinavian fishermen and Asian labor until World War II. It was only during World War II that Bristol Bay Yup'ik began to be used as fishermen and processing workers. Strict union policies and rampant racism led to conflicts in the post-World War II era as Italian and Scandinavian fishermen and Asian cannery workers sought to regain their preeminence. This led to the formation of two fishermen's organizations: one headquartered in Dillingham to represent the largely Yup'ik fishermen of western Bristol Bay and a second headquartered in Naknek to represent non-native fishermen who fished primarily in eastern Bristol Bay (Petterson et al., 1984). The commercial fishing adaptation fit well with the continuing subsistence practices of the Yup'ik villagers. The Athapaskans from Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark began to enter the commercial fishery and followed a similar pattern. Men fished cannery-owned drift gillnet boats as teams, often consisting of brothers, father, and son or brother, and brother-in-law. Equal sharing of work, capital, and return was the Yup'ik formula that was readily adapted from the traditional male subsistence practices. Women worked in the cannery and later in the summer worked their own set net sites, selling part of the catch and drying and smoking the remainder. In August, they would leave the canneries and return up
OCR for page 25
--> river to their villages where the last runs of dog and silver salmon would be harvested for subsistence. The Bristol Bay pattern produced a sizable cash return and allowed purchase of fuel and food. In poor harvest years, canneries would extend credit for ''grub stakes" to see their fishermen and families through the winter. In the winter, trapping and hunting, accompanied by seasonal feasting, particularly around the Russian Orthodox New Year, were the primary activities. Thus, in this instance there was an effective integration of traditional work patterns with commercial fishing activities, and even a transfer of skills between the two patterns (Langdon, 1987b). Despite problems associated with the sale of limited-entry fishing permits, the integration of commercial fishing activities with traditional subsistence practices continued to be a major foundation of Yup'ik society and values in western Bristol Bay into the 1980s (Langdon, 1991). It is important to note that the crab fisheries in the 1960s and 1970s were conducted by vessels over 60 feet in length based primarily out of Seattle and Kodiak. Unlike the Alaska Peninsula Aleut, the Bristol Bay Yup'ik did not have large vessels or enough deep water experience to compete on relatively equal footing in these new industries. With the creation of the EEZ and the exclusion of foreign fishing, a sac roe herring fishery developed in the Togiak district of western Bristol Bay. Euroamerican purse seiners from districts in other parts of Alaska sought to monopolize this new industry to the exclusion of the local Yup'ik gillnet fishermen. However, the Yup'ik responded and won an important court decision that allowed foreign vessels to purchase sac roe herring from them, since domestic processors refused to purchase Yup'ik production (Langdon, 1982). The restriction of entry into the Bristol Bay salmon and sac roe herring fisheries is a clear case of the denial of opportunity to local fishermen through arrangements between processors and groups of Euroamerican fishermen (Langdon, 1982). In many cases, local fishermen did not participate in the fishery unless outside labor was not available, and little effort was made to include them in the industry (Van Stone, 1967). Experience of the Yukon and Kuskokwin Yup'ik North of Bristol Bay, near the lower reaches of the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, the experience of Alaska Natives was again different from that in other regions. In this region, significant and sustained contact with Euroamericans did not occur until well into the 20th century. Waters of the delta are extremely shallow, which was a major impediment to sailing vessels used by early fur traders (Oswalt, 1990). In the latter part of the 19th century, expansion of the salmon canning industry stopped near Bristol Bay due to the high cost of production on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers. These factors combined to keep the regions along these rivers free from significant external influences until the mid-20th
OCR for page 36
--> that results has had profound effects on the social conditions of these communities and has exacerbated existing social problems (Alaska Natives Commission, 1994). As an example, alcoholism and suicide among Alaska Natives continues to remain high, and recent studies suggest that the rates for alcoholism, alcohol-related deaths and injuries, and suicide are significantly higher in western Alaska than in the general U.S. population (Gessner, 1997; Landen et al., 1997). Some villages have attempted to counteract high rates of alcoholism by restricting the sale of alcohol in the villages, and those policies have reduced the rates of alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths (Landen et al., 1997). These social problems, in addition to poor sanitation and immunization rates, and the limited availability of health care, education, and employment opportunities have been well-documented (Alaska Natives Commission, 1994). In many cases, Alaska Natives have among the lowest levels of income, employment, and life expectancy of all ethnic groups in the United States yet have among one of the highest birth rates (Hensel, 1996; Alaska Natives Commission, 1994). These conditions contribute to a reduction of the ability of villagers to participate in many of the subsistence activities that provide important food and domestic products for these regions, and further exacerbate economic and social problems (Marshall, 1988). Some villages have generated locally based businesses and industries that have been important sources of employment and hope through coordination among different organizations (e.g., Emmonak, Saxman in Southeast Alaska). Generally, there has not been an expansion of locally-based businesses and industries (Alaska Natives Commission, 1994). All of these factors indicate that the lack of development continues to be a central factor in the social and economic problems facing western Alaska communities. What is Development in Western Alaska? The idea of "development" has been evolving in the past several decades, both among some academic experts and among the peoples concerned. Of course, the alleviation of poverty and the attendant social ills remain fundamental and are the common denominator of all definitions. But the narrow view of economic growth—expansion of production, productivity, and per capita income—as the greatest good and an end in itself has been superseded by, or included in, a more general understanding of development as the enrichment of chosen forms of human life. It is material growth that now appears as the means. The end is the overall fulfillment of human existence according to a people's own cultural conceptions of what a good life is. Development currently includes the concepts of the enrichment of a way of life and self-determination, concepts beyond a strictly economic perspective. No doubt many factors have contributed to this shift in perspective. Among them is the recognition of cultural diversity. Economists and other social scientists long thought that development was impeded by the
OCR for page 37
--> The idea of "development" has been evolving, and is no longer focused exclusively on economic growth. The goal of development initiatives such as the CDQ program includes both alleviation of poverty and attendant social ills and enrichment of a way of life and self-determination. (Photo of Charles Hanson by James Barker and provided courtesy of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Contemporary Art Bank.) indigenous culture of the so-called traditional societies. Yet often what they were witnessing was the integration of modern technologies, goods and relations in and by local traditions, which gave such "development" (as locally defined) an unrecognizable appearance. In many situations cultural tradition and economic change are not necessarily antithetical, but the traditions continue to orient the economic change, such that the continuity of tradition consisted in the specific
OCR for page 38
--> way a people were prepared to change (Hannerz, 1992; Thomas, 1991; Sahlins, 1993). A report of the World Commission on Culture and Development established by UNESCO reflects the shift in thinking about the concept of development (Pérez de Cuéllar, 1995). According to one view, development is a process of economic growth . . . According to the other, espoused by the UNDP's [United Nations Development Programme's] annual Human Development Report and by many distinguished economists, development is seen as a process that enhances the effective freedom of the people involved to pursue whatever they have reason to value . . . Poverty of life, in this view, implies not only lack of essential goods and services, but also a lack of opportunities to choose a fuller, more satisfying, more valuable and valued existence. The choice can also be for a different style of development, a different path, based on different values from those of highest income countries now. The recent spread of democratic institutions, of market choices, of participatory management of firms, has enabled different groups and different cultures to choose for themselves. It can no longer be supposed, as it was in an earlier generation of "modernization" theories, that the non-Western people's culture has something the matter with it. If any general lesson can be drawn from the mixed practical efforts of earlier decades to remake the world in the Western image of progress, it is that a people's economy is part of their larger organization of life, and the culture that supplies its principal relationships and values. As stated by the World Commission on Culture and Development: "Culture is not a means to material progress: it is the end and aim of 'development' seen as the flourishing of human existence in all its forms and as a whole" (Pérez de Cuéllar, 1995). In other words, development in the late 20th century is realized as the indigenization of modernity—the encompassment of modern technologies in local cultures. The NRC Committee to Review the Community Development Quota found this concept of development particularly appropriate to its investigation. It is useful and appropriate because a working relation between the modern market economy and the existing cultural traditions is already in effect in western Alaskan communities, the market now providing important monetary means for the realization of the cultural traditions. Indeed, the most serious problem facing these communities seems not so much how to synthesize the commercial economy with their own cultural values, as how to get enough income from the market to support the traditional cultural values that are now dependent on it. For the so-called subsistence lifestyle widely practiced in western Alaska by non-native and native people alike is both less and more than the term "subsistence" tends to imply. It is less because subsistence production would be impossible without engagements in the commercial relations and civic institutions of the larger American society, including the income people need for their means of subsis-
OCR for page 39
--> tence production. The necessary adoption of modern technology makes money their own cultural capital. But then, "subsistence" means more than it seems since, as an Anchorage Daily News reporter put it, it is "not a lifestyle but a life" (Anchorage Daily News, 1989). A total world order of cultural values, practices and relationships is linked to the annual cycle of harvesting wild animal and plant resources. "Subsistence" includes: (1) the relationships of households, extended families, and larger communities constructed through cooperation in production and customs of reciprocal sharing; (2) the division of labor between men and women and the corresponding understanding of their respective competencies; (3) the accumulation of prestige and influence by certain individuals, such as successful hunters or whaling captains, and certain knowledgeable people, such as experienced elders, which constitutes the political contours of the community; (4) the dances, inter-village exchange festivals, and other social celebrations, often integrated in the calendar of Christian religious and American national holidays; and (5), not least, the distinctive relations of exchange that people understand to exist between themselves and the natural species on which they depend. Native communities attach very strong values to indigenous foods, a diet of which is considered indispensable to human strength and health. Also associated are certain valued traits of human character, of the kind necessary to undertake an often difficult "subsistence" existence: a very considerable knowledge of nature and a high degree of technical competence (including competence in dealing with modern technologies), highly athletic physical skills, and the sort of mental toughness that combines sagacious prudence with the ability to respond to the emergencies and contingencies of famously difficult Arctic conditions (Nelson, 1969). "Subsistence" is indeed much more than subsistence; it is a whole way of life that extends to the people's essential conceptions of themselves and of the objects of their existence2 (Jorgensen, 1990). Yet "subsistence" is no longer a phenomenon of the people's own making, and in that sense we say it is less than a complete existence. It depends decisively and unconditionally on monetary flows from the public and private sectors for the acquisition of necessary capital. There is no going back now to fur clothing, dog sleds, and bone-pointed harpoons; the subsistence economy runs on snow-machines, motorized aluminum fishing vessels, four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, pickup trucks, CB radios, manufactured fishing and hunting gear, fossil fuels, 2 Subsistence also includes the responsibilities that people fulfill in providing for their families and caring for the older people and for other relatives, friends, and neighbors. It includes the pleasure that people derive from subsistence pursuits and from being out in the country. It includes the respect and reverence that people have toward the land and animals. It includes the understanding people have of the deeper connections between themselves as a people, the land and the sea, and the resources. The people know that these connections sustain not only their bodies but also their cultural and personal essences, giving them identity and meaning in their lives as persons and as a people.
OCR for page 40
--> camping equipment, imported cold weather clothing, and airplanes (Langdon, 1991). Changes in lifestyle including settlement patterns in the villages, improved safety, the availability of technology, and the desire for other market goods that reduce the time available for subsistence activities have contributed to the increasing importance of capital for conducting subsistence activities. An average of about $20,000 to $25,000 in annual cash expenses per household is a reasonable estimate of what is presently required to maintain an ongoing "subsistence" economy. As is well known, the Alaska Natives have adopted a great variety of strategies to acquire the income necessary for daily life—although the available sources have not been sufficient to prevent serious and widespread poverty. In broad terms, the principal sources of cash income have been commercial fishing and hunting; craft production; dividends from native corporations; income from participation in the National Guard and state construction projects3; loans from government agencies and fiscal institutions; and a variety of transfer payments ranging from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to annual distributions from the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. Considering that these flows go largely to maintaining the so-called subsistence system, it follows that the "development" of western Alaskan communities is, in an unusual double sense, an enrichment of their way of life. It is important to stress the seeming paradoxes of this development, precisely because in western Alaska the market economy and the traditional lifestyles have proved to be compatible despite the conventional social science wisdom, now outmoded, according to which synthesis of money and culture would be impossible. For many years it was believed that money destroys the traditional community, because money becomes the community, the effective nexus of relationships between people. But decades of academic studies in western Alaskan communities by a variety of anthropologists and sociologists have repeatedly testified to the contrary; the Alaska Native communities have proven open to technological innovation and adaptable to market economy as well as to government bureaucracy, while all the time integrating these external influences in their own cultural purposes (Hensel, 1996; Nowack, 1975; Van Stone, 1960, 1962). General observations to this effect have been made in villages in the CDQ area. For example, a study conducted on the lower Yukon Delta notes: The interaction of monetary income and subsistence output argues against a conceptual polarization of a "subsistence economy" and "market economy" as mutually exclusive and antagonistic production systems. Rather than being competing systems, Kotlik fishermen have blended them in a mutually supportive mixed economy (Wolfe, 1986). 3 Income from the National Guard and state construction projects have fallen in recent years, contributing to a shrinking economic base.
OCR for page 41
--> Anne Fienup-Riordan found similar conditions on Nelson Island. She writes: The fact that the same men and women who affirm their cultural heritage through the defense of traditional subsistence resource utilization patterns are often the very ones who are anxious to develop the [commercial] economic opportunities available in their villages does not represent a contradiction or a basic incompatibility between cultural values and economic reality. Rather, choices in the realm of economic, political, and social activity are made in accordance with a common cultural value system (Fienup-Riordan, 1986a). Finally, a study of two Yup'ik communities, Togiak and Quinhagak, in the Bristol Bay and Kuskokwim regions makes a telling observation about the positive relationship between success in the commercial and traditional economies—a finding that has been replicated in a number of Alaska Native villages: It is . . . noteworthy, as found elsewhere in rural western Alaska, that "success" in petty commodity production is highly correlated with success in subsistence . . . [T]he high commodity producers choose to be high producers in the subsistence sector as well. They have sufficient time and well organized managerial skills to pursue subsistence. Subsistence activities continue to provide them with satisfaction, status and allow them to fulfill obligations to kinsmen and community. Subsistence is deeply embedded in what it means to be a Yup'ik in these communities (Langdon, 1991). From this complementary relation of the subsistence and monetary economies follows the finding—extremely relevant for assessing the CDQ program—that higher levels of household cash income are directly correlated with the people's commitment to and their returns from natural resource harvesting (hunting, fishing, and gathering). So again, an observation on Kotlik villagers: The members of families with larger monetary incomes had a larger quantity of subsistence food products in their diets than families with smaller monetary incomes. The relationship appears linear and significant at p = .05 . . . The implication is that income and subsistence use increase together (Wolfe, 1986). Indeed, where commercial fishing is involved, the relationship of the two sectors is mutually reinforcing: successful fishing yields increased cash, thus improved subsistence gear, hence greater returns from each subsistence attempt. Yet, interestingly enough, studies show the same positive relationship held where employment is concerned: that men who are able to obtain employment locally, even for the greater part of the year, are at least as committed to subsistence activities as those employed, and are generally more successful. Kruse (1986), for example, found this to be the case in North Slope Iñupiat villages—where the data indicate that subsistence activity increases with the number of months of employment annually, up to those working for wages nine months or more—and the general correlation is also reported for villages in the CDQ program area
OCR for page 42
--> (Langdon, 1986, p.32, Wolfe, 1980, 1986; Lonner, 1986). Of course, it is the increased mobility and efficiency provided by modern technology, provided by cash income, that makes it possible for individuals to succeed in both sectors of the economy at once. Extended families, as well as households at a stage in their development cycle that affords them working members in two generations, are even better endowed to exploit simultaneously the monetary and subsistence spheres. In such cases a division of labor—such as between elders and younger members of the family or between young men of different skills and dispositions—will provide the advantage of at least some specialization in the two sectors (Worl and Smythe, 1986). Family size, solidarity, and stage of development are also critical in determining whether outside employment and educational opportunities can be exploited—such as the opportunities expected from CDQ programs. Another unusual empirical finding deserves emphasis, namely that adults in rural villages who have the greatest "outside" experience in terms of education and employment, which is to say the more "acculturated" or ''Westernized" individuals, usually have greater interest and output in the subsistence economy than people who have not had such backgrounds (Kruse, 1986). This relationship is again contingent on higher monetary income, thus improved means of subsistence production, among those who have passed time in urban environments of Alaska or elsewhere. Still, it would come as some surprise to earlier theories of "modernization" that the more Westernized people become, the more indigenous they will be: It appears, then, that men remain interested in subsistence activities despite exposure to western influences. In fact, men who for reasons of choice or fate have been exposed to Western influences tend to be more interested in subsistence (Kruse, 1986). For some time now, especially since World War II, the communities of western Alaska have extended beyond the boundaries of their villages. These communities include people working or studying in metropolitan centers of Alaska and the contiguous United States, people who may well return in the classic pattern of "circular migration," but who remain linked to their villages of origin by sentiment, kinship, and the exchange of money, goods, and news. Such linkages have, of course, been facilitated by modern means of transportation and communication. As in many other areas of the world where people, ideas, and commodities are on the move between rural homelands and urban centers of employment, new forms of dispersed communities have developed in the Twentieth Century—and may well be with us for generations to come. The geographic village is small, but the social village extends for thousands of miles. Moreover, the flow of goods—so-called remittances that are viewed locally as part of a traditional reciprocity or sharing system—generally favors the village, hence reverses the historic parasitic economic relationship between cities and rural areas.
OCR for page 43
--> It can be expected that Alaska Native communities will have members working in the cities but contributing to the village economy, even if they become longtime city residents. For this reason, varied educational and training programs, even without seeming applicability to rural economic activity, can have great development benefits for the native villages. The pattern of benefits from education, training, and outside employment, accruing to families (or extended families) in the CDQ villages depends on the demography and the stage in the development cycle of the family. Some households, particularly those composed of young married couples with dependent children and those composed of older community members without access to young people's labor, will not be able to take advantage of economic opportunities outside the village. These people can be served by development projects that emphasize increased economic activities in the villages or nearby rural areas, rather than in distant fishing grounds or urban areas. Village-based development projects include loans for expanding local commercial fishing operations and creation of local wage-earning and marketing opportunities in fish processing and distribution. Indeed, the circular migration between rural villages and cities is an aspect of recent Alaskan history that affords a ready—made experimental demonstration of just what "development" is in this cultural context—and thus, what might be hoped for from the CDQ program. We mean the cultural "renaissance" as it has been called and as it has been reported from several locations within the CDQ region, coming on the tide of increased cash flows in rural Alaska since the early 1970s. ''It was not anticipated," Joseph Jorgensen wrote in a recent work on Oil Age Eskimos (1990), "that ANCSA's [Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act] provisions would lure natives back to their natal villages from urban areas in Alaska and elsewhere, but the prospects of employment, land, and money have had that effect." The result of a multi-year investigation by a team of ethnographers, Jorgensen's report included two villages, Unalakleet (Yukon) and Gambell (St. Lawrence Island), in the CDQ program—as well as a third, Wainwright, on the North Slope (Jorgensen, 1990). The influx of money and increase of employment opportunities in these communities came from activities of native corporations, government projects, and the North Slope oil development, as well as enhanced commercial fishing and craft production. Federal housing projects in the villages, unrelated to ANSCA, have also contributed by providing an incentive to lure people back to their villages. Immigration, as well as efforts to eradicate diseases in these communities, also contributed to population increase. Gambell, for example, grew from 372 in 1970 to 522 in 1989. If the population increase was not anticipated, even less expected was the "renaissance of native culture" that accompanied it—what the researchers characterized summarily as a resurgence of "subsistence pursuits, native lore and legends, native dancing and singing" (Jorgensen, 1990). These were not the only aspects of the local culture that found new life. Relations of kinship were
OCR for page 44
--> extended and (on St. Lawrence Island) clanship strengthened, as these were engaged in the organization of production and exchange. It is "an interesting fact that should not go unnoticed," observed Jorgensen (1990), "that the more people earned, whether in private sector jobs or as successful private sector fisherman, the more widely they shared." On Nelson Island (also in the CDQ program), a similar cultural efflorescence has been described by Anne Fienup-Riordan (1983, 1986, 1990). The focus has been the traditional springtime seal festival, celebrating the first catch of the season, the occasion of elaborate distributions of meat and goods that realize the main social relationships of these Yup'ik communities. The feast and exchanges, including inter-village exchanges, have seen "an incredible quantitative elaboration" in recent times (Fienup-Riordan, 1986). Noting that the forecasts of a waning subsistence lifestyle so popular in the 1950s and 1960s have not been confirmed, Jorgensen sums up such surprising development effects as follows: To the contrary, political and economic events since 1970 have had the contradictory consequences of causing Alaskan Eskimos to become increasingly dependent on the public and private sectors of the national economy but also to hunt, fish, and collect more efficiently. Furthermore, the economic and political forces of the past fifteen years have triggered a renaissance of Eskimo dancing and singing, a return migration to villages from urban areas . . . In short, there is a determination on the part of Eskimos to maintain traditional Eskimo culture and at the same time to adapt a pragmatic acceptance of the benefits of modern technology (1990). What will happen if the CDQ program is economically successful, if it brings increased employment opportunities and moneys to western Alaskan communities, is not entirely unpredictable. The predictions are not the same as might have been made by social scientists (and others) 20 or 30 years ago, but then, they are based on the unexpected experience of recent decades, which have seen the "development" of traditional culture in places where access to the market economy, monetary incomes, and technological means of subsistence production have all improved. "Development" thus indeed turns out to be "the enrichment of a way of life." But of course it would be very wrong to suppose that this process is ever economically simple or culturally unproblematic. "Enrichment" is never easy, nor are all modes of doing so supportive of the local way of life—or the people's sense of self-respect. It is a popular opinion that the social problems of indigenous Alaskan communities—alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide most notably—are the results of a "clash of cultures." Presumably the unfulfillable expectations and intractable barriers set up by American society, together with the declining strength and appeal of native custom, have been the principal ingredients of a widespread despair. On the other hand, the information we reviewed suggests that the explanations of despondency by reason of cultural conflicts are not altogether suffi-
OCR for page 45
--> cient. The great success stories in native communities figure as their main protagonists the people who have had the most "outside" experience and ability in the market economy—success consists precisely in turning these assets to the enhancement of the "subsistence lifestyle." The leaders of some native communities in western Alaska are often among the most "acculturated" of the local people. It is their competence in both cultures, the native and the Western, that allows them to synthesize the differences—and gives them also a measure of local respect. Hence the problems of modern native communities do not necessarily reside in inherent cultural incompatibilities so much as in situations that make it difficult for people to synthesize the differences. If development is "the enrichment of the community's way of life," it is important to stress again that, as the situation now stands in western Alaska, the traditional way of life cannot proceed without cash. In this respect, young men and women and young families are in a particularly precarious position. Many of the skills that traditionally equipped people for an honorable and satisfying existence—such as, for men, knowledge of nature, hunting skills, dog sledding, kayaking, whaling—have been rendered technologically obsolete and lost to the younger generation. Unless young people can acquire a monetary stake to subsidize their customary productive activities with the technologies now required, they are in danger of becoming a lost generation. The situation is all the more critical because of the role of autonomy in traditional cultures, that is, on the ability to provide for oneself and family, and beyond that to achieve community standing by supplying others, especially elders and poorer people, with shares from successful subsistence endeavors. As we noted earlier, the problem is not so much that money and the traditional way of life are incompatible, but that without money one cannot participate in the traditional way of life. In that event, the failure is compounded: it is a failure in both cultures. Unable to function in their own society, left with nothing to do and no possible future, the young people are also left out of Euroamerican culture, the good things of which are in their view but not within their grasp. It is a formula for despondency. As matters have evolved, it is necessary for western Alaskans to succeed, one way or another, in the Euroamerican culture in order to find a place, and peace, in the native culture. If the CDQ program is to have serious developmental consequences, it will have to open the possibilities, especially for young people, to make a go of it in their local communities. But at the same time, there is something more to the value of autonomy that engages the villages and regional organizations as such, the structures by which the CDQ program is constituted. More than any previous welfare or development initiative, more even than the native corporations, the CDQ program seems to offer a viable way for local people to gain control over the means by which they are articulated to the larger economy and society. This would not only be true of the development councils set up by the CDQ groups but also of the educational training grants they provide. In this regard, it
OCR for page 46
--> should be remarked that "development" has come to include—not only in Native Alaska, but generally in the world—a growing aspiration for self-determination, both as the means and the end. The people seek a measure of governance, one that will allow them to shape their own future—not only in ways that safeguard their language, values, and customs but according to these cultural desiderata. Such distinctive control by and for members of local communities has thus become a crucial condition of development. Many of the hopes for the CDQ program that NRC committee members encountered in their site visits came from this promise of self-determination—by invidious contrast to welfare handouts and other projects that wind up confirming people in their dependency without relieving their despondency.
Representative terms from entire chapter: