The values of subsistence

by Peter Twitchell

The Elders spoke earlier this summer about our Ancestors, who commissioned us to never fight about our resources like fish. However, we live in modern times and our sovereignty has been violated like the people who steal the dried fish of Elders and others who worked hard to catch the fish and clean them and worked hard to dry and smoke them, the violation is the same.

The Elders of the Kuskokwim have spoken, and I heard them live on KYUK Radio.

There are several things at work here against our subsistence way of life. The weather and the environment hasn’t been cooperative. Dry hot weather, with the absence of water hasn’t made it easy.

One Elder said the water was too warm, too shallow and too clear. Wind, rain and the winds were absent when spring came. Historically inclement weather has brought in the fish from the mouth of the Kuskokwim River.

Another observation was made, through the years the beaver has dammed up the sloughs of the tributaries of the Kuskokwim River. Fifty years ago there was no such thing. We could traverse our creeks and sloughs until we came to the ends of them.

A dozen beaver dams exist in each slough, making it virtually impossible for fish to migrate back and forth. The faster running tributaries like the 3-Step, Kisaralek, and Qanirtuuq are gushing with water and there are no beaver dams in existence like they are in quieter creeks and sloughs.

Thanks to the people of Quinhagak who have openly welcomed us fishermen from inland to fish their river. In fact they encourage it, in the tradition of our Ancestors to help each other, not the other way around to restrict our resources for food.

We thank you, our Ancestors thank you, and the Creator is grateful, his will be done!

Many people who have more resources, like boats, gasoline and jobs to pay for these luxuries have enough food for the winter, others don’t, some wait for someone to bring them a fish.

When I was younger I followed my grandma Hannah’s instructions to help those in need, like Elders, disabled and widows. I’m grateful for that, but I did my part helping others, and never asked anything in return.

Now, I am able to retire comfortably and I give God all the glory. I want to publically thank Moses Pavilla family for helping me get some dried white fish, native food that my mom and grandma was raised on. It’s in my DNA, I need native food to be strong mentally, emotionally and physically.

Quyana Cakneq!