Victoria Briggs: On the Verge of Winter



Fall sunset in Ugashik

Oct 25, 2009

While returning home from Dillingham, we flew over the tundra that is starting to show signs of real winter. Lake after pond, after stream after river, after lake after pond, well you get it, mushy tundra swamp. Everything is either a shade of blue/white or brown/tan.

Up to a third of most lakes are now frozen over, mostly the southern end because the winds have been from the north lately. It had been an evening and morning of frozen rain and light snow.

Many would call this area God forsaken, many call it beautiful, and a few of us call it home.

So many thoughts were going through my head, fast, slow, back and forth, from when I first saw this area, to pondering how the future is going to show itself.

I have been reading Erin McKittrick’s book  A Long Trek Home about Alaska and the 4,000 mile trip she and husband Hig took walking, paddling and skiing which brought them through here a little over a  year ago. We had a great visit with this super couple when they stopped for a few days in Ugashik while on their trek.

erinhig1Erin & Hig leaving Ugashik last fall

Her writings of what all they saw and experienced on their trip up through SE Alaska and then down and out to the start of the Aleutian Islands keep you turning the pages to enjoy more. The beauty, the sad things, the wildlife, the loss of culture, the maintaining of cultures, all something we need to pay attention to more here in Alaska.

Since then I have tapped into Hig’s knowledge of what all is facing us here in Alaska, everything from oil drilling and mining to coal exploration.

How he, as a well trained scientist, sees us learning about and getting involved in those things which will affect everything from our fisheries, jobs, environment, to education for our kids so they can have a future.

I found myself wondering how we can use this knowledge to hold those in positions of ‘leadership’ accountable for OUR future. From our state officials but more importantly, in my mind, our local organizations and people?

How we can move past the self–interests, racism, and short sightedness?

Push past the knowledge holders instead of knowledge sharers?

Push past those who would prefer to hold back more than move forward?

How do we push past those who REALLY do NOT care about people and cultures, despite the rhetoric, and move into a future of sustainability and thriving villages?

As we move into this season of not only cold but also of getting together for holidays, village events but also meetings and working on regional issues I will be watching and hoping we can really accomplish something towards helping people learn and be able to comment on those issues dear to them.

This is the time of year when most organizations in Alaska get together to discuss not only what has happened but also what needs to happen, from businesses organizations, fishing regulation agencies to tribal organizations.  Most all meet in the next six month at one time or the other to tackle a range of issues.

How do we work to show a complete picture of what village life is like,  work against those who stack the meetings/testimony (using monies that SHOULD be going to help) with only those who speak to only one side of an issue and move into REAL addressing of issues??

I hope, maybe, after the last 18 months or so and all the ‘outside’ attention we have garnered as a state it will make people realize we ARE on a world wide stage.

That our decisions and the directions we choose will impact many and for years to come.

Watching, and at times participating, has made me all the more determined to help others learn what they need so they too can speak up.

We need the tongues and feet of many to move forward.

Letting someone else always speak for you, even if you do not totally understand, is not acceptable.

To help people realize they have a right to by-laws, to minutes, to resolutions of their village governments, tribal governments and regional organizations.

If you are a member of an organization and you can’t get this information, ask WHY!!  Better yet ask, “WHY THE HELL NOT?”.

The “information holders” have to go!!

We have to move toward the people who are “information sharers” so we can ALL move forward.

~ Victoria


63 Responses to “Victoria Briggs: On the Verge of Winter”

  1. alaskapi Says:

    Among the many, many resources available for folks to use to learn more about the organizations they deal with and the issues they are facing Erin and Hig’s blog sets a high standard .

    There are lots of others which bring information and questions to the table as well…
    SOME are :

    Other information is tougher to root out but can be gained with some study…well, a LOT of study :-)

    As winter approaches and people take stock of where they have been and where they are going, I’m hoping more come to see that their own feet create the trail they follow… and their own voices call out the direction they choose…
    IF they step firmly enough and speak out clearly they can change things which need changing and save that which is worth saving…

  2. boodog Says:

    I try to pass on Erin and Hig’s info whenever I can. They are doing a great service and are pretty cool people too. Thanks!

  3. Jim Says:

    I know nothing about village governance or native corporations. I know a bit more about the consequences of the March 1962 U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Baker v. Carr. This decision had profound consequences and reduced rural representation in state governments. Many states, including Alaska, used bicameral legislatures to balance rural and urban needs– state senates usually were more focused on (and apportioned for) rural interests. After Baker v. Carr, urban interests took precedent in both state houses and senates. “One man one vote” prevailed and became the law of the land.

    In Alaska, before Baker v. Carr, the 1958 Alaska State Senate was comprised of senators from: Fairbanks (3), Anchorage (3), Nome (2), Wrangell, Klawock, Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Cordova, Seward, Uganik Bay, Bethel, Nenana, Unalakleet, and Barrow.

    Now we have: Anchorage (7), Fairbanks (2) Wasilla (2) Eagle River, North Pole, Juneau, Kenai, Sitka, Kodiak, Nome, Bethel, and Angoon.

    In 1958 Alaskans elected 8 or 9 rural state senators. Now we have 3 or 4. We may lose another rural senator, and perhaps one or two representatives, after the 2010 census– that’s the law of the land.

    As a consequence of Baker v. Carr, our State government’s legislative branch is primarily an urban branch of government. Rural Alaskans must rely more and more on the executive branch to look out for them. When we have train-wreck governors like the previous one, the consequences can be especially damaging to rural Alaskans since most of their eggs are in that basket.

    Baker v. Carr may have been basically a “good” decision for most U.S. states, but I don’t think it was necessarily good for Alaska, which is uniquely vast and sparsely populated, or other states with large rural populations. As indigenous people often live in sparsely populated rural areas, I think Baker v. Carr may have unintentionally hit some native Americans, and their rights, especially hard.

  4. Jim Says:

    The only elected government institution in the United States whose make-up isn’t determined to some degree by populations is the United States Senate. The Supreme Court couldn’t apply one-man-one-vote on the United States Senate because the Constitution stipulated each state was entitled to 2 senators. Ironically the Supreme Court didn’t feel states should be allowed to structure their own senates similarly.

    After Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court said the same principals (“one man one vote”) should apply down to the most local levels– I think this included tribal governments– perhaps if tribal governments are not serving all their constituents equally, those governments may be subject to litigation from their constituents who are not being equally represented and served– I believe all tribal and native constituents are entitled to equal representation, and that is their constitutional right as Americans.

  5. alaskapi Says:

    The State has done a considerably better and more open job of dealing with questions about fuel-supplies-in-place this fall… than last year.
    I am impressed.
    It doesn’t solve issues about whether individuals can afford to purchase fuel but the knowledge that , for most communities , fuel is in place BEFORE freeze-up is a step forward .
    Jill Burke

    “Twenty-four Alaska communities still haven’t received their winter fuel shipments, according to the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development…”


    Information sharing …

    Thank you Alaska Dispatch and Deputy Director Ruby.

  6. alaskapi Says:

    While it is a fact of life now, I’m not sure Baker v Carr was good for ANY rural area in the US…
    It has certainly changed the way Alaska behaves…
    Along with the necessity of having to rely on the Executive branch more or having to try to win the hearts and minds of urban neighbors. the effects of less representation for the vast areas of rural Alaska far too often get stashed under “out of sight, out of mind” …

    So- we must turn a lens on Rural Alaska, keep it in sight.

    So- we must amplify the voices of our neighbors in Rural Alaska that they may be heard along with the mere simple majority of Alaskans who live on the rail/road system…

  7. UgaVic Says:

    Overall I am looking to the various factions that work locally for more of the solution than the state.

    We have the village gov’t’s, tribal gov’t and corporations, CDQs and also then the larger 12, I believe, tribal organizations and corporations that need to step up.

    There is lots of overlap, misunderstanding of whom and what each can do. What I find so both frustrating and limiting is the lack of accountability most of these organizations are held to. Most members of each, be them tribal or a village resident most times do not hold the ‘leaders’ accountable. Many do not even know they HAVE THE RIGHT to and this lack of knowledge is abused by those in charge, in my opinion.

    Some, like the CDQs are SUPPOSED to be accountable to ALL residents in each of the membership villages. This is NOT a tribal only organization and most village residents are not aware of this.

    They are tasked with economic development in those villages. They are SUPPOSED to be helping to create jobs and stable economies in those villages. The original ideas was to wean the villages off federal dollars with giving them a steady source of income.

    This is greatly lacking in most CDQ. The lack of timely and complete filings of financial statements are now causing some scrutiny.
    Most boroughs are doing a better job in the rural areas but many ‘city’ governments are struggling in how they do business. The supplying of services and keeping legal in all those reports and billing is hard for many.

    Tribal govt’s we really have no idea as they do not have to make public reports. Many members do not realize they do OR SHOULD have the right to ask for a full yearly report and what is should contain.

    We have a long way to go in the rural areas to get all the parts working for a solution. It would just be nice to see more signs of working together and less of try to push personal agendas.

  8. alaskapi Says:

    Uga Vic-

    There is a HUGE lack of understanding by those in and out of local government and organizations about what each entity may or may not do as well as what the everyday citizen can expect from each.

    The 13 Regional corporations are for-profit entities . By and large folks may not interact beyond voting for board members . Mine has some shareholder participation committees and sometimes requests advisory votes on issues before the board but beyond that there is no particpation by shareholders. This is poorly understood.

    CDQs ARE weird…

    Designed to shift some of the profits of the trawling industry to the coastal communities adjacent to the sea, to funnel $ into infrastructure related to fisheries, for the benefit of ALL in those communities they have come to be something far different.

    Some have invested heavily in the trawling industry themselves and are in danger of being part of that which threatens themselves…
    Some make light of serving ALL stakeholders and I hate to say it, have allowed nincompoops in some places to insist they only serve native folks…

    The oversight the original law insisted on has become a joke…
    On and on…

  9. Man_from_Unk Says:

    I’m glad I linked onto this blog this morning. One of my favorite topics is the lack of fair and equal representation in the process of spending FEDERAL DOLLARS on behalf of the people. Lots of abuse and mis-use in many organizations. Crooked people looking after themselves and their buds.

    Victoria asked some very good questions in her article above. To help rural people learn about their civil rights is a good thing. Remember back when Civics was taught in the Alaska schools? That’s what’s lacking. Civics teaches individuals their responsibility to their country and their rights as a citizen of the United States of America.

    How do people know if they are not taught? “To help people” learn “they have a right to by-laws, to minutes, ….. of their……. organizations.” Those of us who know have to lead by example and encourage people (our friends and relatives) to stand up for their rights, our rights. To help us help them. That’s a big missing link because people are so afraid to lose what little they have.

    Victoria asks “How …. we can move past the self-interests, racism and short sightedness?” of our leaders in Rural Alaska. These leaders hold seats in important corporations. The people vote them in. If the people don’t like what the leader is doing or saying, voters as individuals have a RIGHT to speak up against it.

    We can move past leader “self-interest, ….. and short-sightedness” by confronting those leaders person to person, human to human. That’s how we hold people accountable. Talk to them about their role in representing you. Hold your elected official to any organization accountable to you and the people they represent; your friends and relatives who are too afraid to speak up.

  10. Man_from_Unk Says:

    CDQs. Community Development Quota. Western Alaska Coastal Community Development Quota. Quota from the destructive Bering Sea Pollock Trawler Fishery. Quota in the form of millions and millions of dollars to pay for the destruction of the salmon before they return to the rivers to spawn and to feed the poor people of the Western Alaska coastal villages, the Upper Yukon into Canada, the rivers of the Norton Sound, along the coast from Stebbins and up the coast to Wales. We the people own those millions and millions because the Bering Sea Pollock Trawler Fishery is destroying a cultural and traditional way of life for the people.

    Seventeen (17) years of CDQs and very little “fisheries related economic development” has happened because the funds got controlled by those leaders whom Blogger ‘alaskapi’ refers to in his comment, “…….. ALL stakeholders …… have allowed nincompoops …… to insist they only serve …..”.

    Noticed that I took out the word “native”. It’s not the masses fault that the people don’t know the real intent of the CDQ monies. The GREEDY kept it secret for so long. The PEOPLES MONEY to help the salmon survive the destruction out in the Bering Sea. Ironic isn’t it. But we allowed it to be the way it is. We can change it. Teach the stakeholders that they need to get involved because it’s their money to help them survive in Western Alaska.

  11. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Speaking of CDQs, as blogger ‘alaskapi’ commented “CDQs ARE weird…” Anything is “weird” if we don’t understand it. We the people allowed “CDQs” to become “weird” by not learning all we could about them.

    The BSBB got ahold of the CDQs and kept it pretty secret until recently. The destruction of the Yukon King Salmon, the Nome area rivers Chum Salmon, the Unalakleet River King Salmon, and just recently, the Pilgrim River Red Salmon, which by the way has fed the people of Brevig Mission, Teller and Nome for years, is forcing the people to look to the program. Salmon BYCATCH of the Bering Sea Pollock Trawler Fishery. CDQs is their “bandage fix”. CDQs are no longer a secret. The “information holders” are working hard to keep their accounting and dealings secret from the stakeholders. Many are in bed with the Pollock Fishery. We’re allowing a handful of men destroy our culture and tradition while they look after themselves.

    I’m hoping that 2010 will be the year that the United States of America gaves the program back to the people. CDQs need FEDERAL and STATE over-sight. Until then, economic development money for Western Alaska is being abused and misused and mismanaged. It’s our money, our elected Board Member represent us. Hold them accountable. Help the poor people learn of their rights to the millions of dollars given on their behalf.

  12. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    @ Man_from_Unk

    Welcome back! I have been reading your comments at the Alaska Dispatch for months and I’m glad you are here. We have much to learn and do.

  13. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Blogger ‘UgaVic’ said, “What I find…. frustrating… is the lack of accountability…. these organizations are held to.” It’s our own doing by not attending meetings and questioning the Board Members about the actions of the corporation. Start doing that. Hold your so called leaders accountable.

  14. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Thank you Martha Unalaska Yard Sign for following my comments on Alaska Dispatch. I started blogging on ADN about the CDQs in April of 2008. I blogged about what I saw and what I know about issues in Alaska and especially the salmon by-catch issue in the Bering Sea. The “information holders” as Victoria refers to in her article silenced me once, twice and now for the third time on ADN. My intent was to reach the national readers about issues in the Western Alaska region. The word is out and now we work for change. I like reading your comments too.

  15. Man_from_Unk Says:

    The “information holders” continue their EXCLUSION tactics up here in the Norton Sound area. Our CDQ, NSEDC recently held their quarterly meeting in their ‘den’ last week. They put a POWER shun on two dissident Board Members from the neglected northern region of Norton Sound. All they want is their rightful share because they know it belongs to them and their people. They were treated very rudely by those in control. Shunned, isolated and excluded. I’m ashamed that the other Board Members allowed their fellow men to be treated that way. That’s not fair and equal representation. Shame on the office workers for treating the elected leaders of Teller and Brevig Mission with ancient tribal control tactics. This has to be documented and that’s why I’m writing about it for my people. Talk about it. Share stories of the wrong-doing. That’ll stop it eventually.

  16. alaskapi Says:

    I too have seen your comments on AK Dispatch and awhile ago on the ADN.
    I know you are correct about how the misunderstanding by stakeholders and about stakeholders in CDQs occurred . The end result has been to have various factions on the ground yelling at each other .
    And organizations who go their merry way with far too little oversight- by stakeholders or government…

  17. msroque Says:

    I wrote a letter a couple years ago — here’s the link:

    The most frustrating thing for me is our children our the losers here. Not me, not you — but our kids. It was interesting my point of ” I challenge any board or committee member receiving a stipend for their leadership role in Bristol Bay to donate it back to Bristol Bay for their grandchildren. Imagine turning those consulting dollars into an Endowment to reinvest in Bristol Bay’s future! Imagine putting a community center or swimming pool in every village in Bristol Bay all from the proceeds of Bristol Bay Leaders. It could simply be started by opening a bank account and depositing your consulting fee check in it.”

    We no longer have our family in bush Alaska. The schools are inadequate and give the bare bones for an education for our children and every night we go to a gym down the hill, work out and swim — there’s no reason in the world that people in rural Alaska should be without places for kids to work off their energy, theres so much money being wasted — the kids should get something out of this nonsense.

    I could go on for days… there are so many injustices and if you ask too many questions, you’re waxed from the community.

  18. Man_from_Unk Says:

    I’m going to write a little bit more about the challenge that ‘UgaVic’ pointed out in this comment: “What I find ….. frustrating …. is the lack of accountability ….. these organizations are held to.”

    Yes, I agree that it’s very, very frustrating watching the clowns parade around with our money. Watching the clowns change their rules to keep control. Watching the clowns fool the regulators with their blatant lies. Watching the clowns use ancient cultural tactics against their own who want a ‘hand-up’ instead of a ‘hand-out’.

    It is a shame for our people to allow this to happen because it goes against the core of our cultural value: to share and help those in need.

    Plan of Action: Write letters to the State and Federal Regulators requesting that they do something about the lack of accountability and the lack of transparency in spending Federal Dollars. Write to our elected representatives in Washington D.C. Tell them stories of the greed, self-interests and the racial discrimination we witness. Contradict what the ‘information holders’ are telling them.

    Then if our National and State Leaders are smart enough, they’ll start working to find out the truth. That’s what brings change. Finding out the truth and working to keep it true. No more lies. No more lies. Help the people learn to help themselves.

  19. alaskapi Says:


    As I read back over our comments I realize we have hit on a variety of issues which mean a great deal to us as we’ve been talking about information -sharers as opposed to information-holders …
    (thanks for popping the doors open Vic!)
    many of which are probably not well known to some of our visitors to the blog so I think we/ I are going to have to come back pretty soon and do some overview stuff so folks can track this conversation .

    Also, maybe can we pull some threads of WHAT to tell our elected officials and our next door neighbors out of this…?

    We have been blazing through here touching on :

    CDQs and our view that they do not make themselves accountable to stakeholders .
    Also about concerns that they or some of them may not be meeting their other legally described missions .
    Most are not dealing openly with the the huge questions their stakeholders and so many others have about whether the pollack fishery is sustainable itself , as managed for the last 17 years, and the smoke and mirrors about it’s affect on other fisheries… WHOOO. Holy moley!

    Hedged around some , almost working up to talking about the peculiar (in the sense of singular) relationship of tribes with the Federal government – which is generally called sovereignty- and the uneasy relationship that has made with our state government . There are some good things in this area but also some serious problems which too often lead to federal monies being spent inappropriately…

    We’ve skimmed over Regional Corps …
    mentioned village governments, entities galore…

    You have mentioned the tactics used recently in your area to functionally exclude rightful members of your CDQ Board…
    I am thinking about a huge battle brewing in my Reg Corp

    Lots of threads to pull out and sort through.
    Lots of work to do!

  20. UgaVic Says:


    I agree on the letter writing and questioning, it is just so slow and frustrating to build enough of a momentum of questions raised to get our congressional members to take a look, that I wonder IF EVER there will be enough. I have also come to find out that in the past it was a lost cause to approach the Alaskan Congressional delegation. That SEEMS to have changed some but they still are questionable in how hard they will pursue this.

    There have been a few people who have pushed the questions to others that seem interested from other states. I applaud their work on this and the sharing of whom they are approaching and the reception they have gotten.

    I also realize that so many are afraid to be a ‘target’ by complaining due to small town politics and even the regional ramifications that CAN come, many times from areas you do not expect.

    This makes me realize why things change so slowly and the fear of speaking out is so hard for most villagers.

    I guess this comes down to the fact that it will just HAVE to be some of us that take the risk and hopefully will survive the muck that might come back.

    It is helpful to know that there are others also questioning and hoping to see improvements. It helps to keep the frustrations down.

  21. Man_from_Unk Says:

    I get a lot of information from trusted resources, and through my own observations and experiences. I’ve been thinking about how to get information out to the people who are tired of being mislead and lied to by a control group.

    Several years ago, I learned that training manuals for recruits for government workers, including branches of our Armed Forces were being re-written at the Fourth Grade Level.

    That gives me reason to think that a good percentage of our poor people are being manipulated by those who have higher reading and reasoning abilities. They manipulate the ignorant and the illiterate to keep control, those ‘information holders’.

    In order for us to contradict the ‘information holders’ we need to state the discussion issues in plain, clear, and precise language. The longer the discussion, the less one with minimal reading ability is going to read it to learn what others are saying about the issue.

  22. anonymousbloggers Says:


    E-mails to your yahoo account keep coming back. Please contact me at if you are interested in writing some guest posts breaking your ideas into individual threads.


  23. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Thanks ‘alaskapi’ for understanding how the CDQ stakeholders and their rights to be involved in the management of the Federal Dollars from the Bering Sea Factory Trawler Fishery became a GRAY area. Share your understanding.

    Secrets held by a handful of men. And as you say, “The end result has been to have various factions on the ground yelling at each other.”

    Yes, I agree that the ‘information holders’ keep their control with bully tactics. The loudest and the toughest sounding Board Member in the closed door meeting intimidating the others with bully tactics. Threats, name-calling, lies, mis-information. It’s happening, it’s true.

  24. Man_from_Unk Says:

    I wish I knew how to post a link but I found a good article on my regions CDQ group on this morning, front page under Alaska News.

    The information verifies the lack of Federal and State Rules and Regulations governing the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery CDQs.

    Don’t forget to check out the links. Background facts and history helps one understand the present state of affairs. It’s slimy stink.

  25. Man_from_Unk Says:

    The CDQs are generating millions and millions of dollars to help the poor people of the Western Alaska Coastal area. Many of the CDQs jumped right back into the Bering Sea to continue the destruction of a cultural and traditional way of life for the very same people those millions and millions were intended to help.

    Lack of oversight from the State and Federal Governments brought us to this point in the History of Alaska. Now it’s the poor peoples chance to change the course of history. The Western Alaska poor people are being over-looked in order to feed the poor in other parts of the world. You can’t compare a King Salmon steak with a pollock fish stick. There is no comparison, yet the Pollock Fishery By-Catch is killing off the different salmon species, supposedly under the watchful eye of the government through the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. The new regulations on King Salmon By-Catch won’t kick in for another year, 2011. Let’s hope and prey that this pollock season and the next won’t kill off all of the Salmon.


  26. UgaVic Says:

    The report on the link leads us to realize even more of what we are shut out of as residents and supposed stake holders.

    More voices need to be calling for audits and investigations and hopefully we will see that.

    Even is as small a village as I am in I can not get answers from either the tribe, who selects the board member without input from the village residents, or my CDQ.

    When asking such simple things as to what the guidelines are for futher funding on projects or EVEN what funds are being requested for …nothing.

    We are currently watching what looks to be hundred of thousands of dollars go into a project that is literally falling into the river. We are entering ‘stage 3’ and it is falling down and people are getting pay checks from it. This current project is on private property and trying to get answers is impossible so far.

    Federal investigations look to be the only way to get these questions answered.

    This is not right.

  27. UgaVic Says:

    Here is another issue that has arisen with a CDQ in the north, Norton Sounds’.

    Interesting that things must get to the stage that a lawsuit is needed.

    I have the feeling more of us are going to have to do this …

  28. Jim Says:

    This is a stupid question, but regarding Norton Sound’s CDQ, does either APOC or the Federal Election Commission have oversight of this group’s election? If the courts can be tapped, I wonder if either of these groups have jurisdiction.

  29. NS_Crabber Says:

    It’s not a stupid question Jim, one would think there should be some oversite in a federal program that already has generated over a billion dollars for western Alaska but unfortunately there isn’t.

    If you follow the links on the Alaska Report article to letters from NMFS and Ted Stevens himself you will see that there are no rules for electing CDQ group board members. This was a serious oversight that needs to be corrected by congressional legislation.

    Most provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley doesn’t apply either and the people in control of the CDQ money are running amok with it.

  30. UgaVic Says:

    Thanks NS Crabber for the clarifications.

    The more I read the more it looks like a tangled web to benefit many others except for whom it is supposed to.

    This HAS to change!!

  31. Jim Says:

    NS Crabber and UgaVic:

    What should we advocate? Who should we advocate to?

  32. alaskapi Says:

    Vic, Man_From _Unk, and NS_ Crabber-

    Do you have copies of bylaws for your own CDQs?
    Those governing election to the board?

    Are your CDQs using the language in the law which protects business information from competitors to hide much, much more?

    What do you see since the 2006 changes in oversight by state to the virtual non-oversight situation of now?

    How was WACDA supposed to make things better?

    The Alaska Report article was /is very well written . I’m not done tracking down all the links BUT
    HOW do you get information like that out to all stakeholders?

  33. NS_Crabber Says:

    Excellent questions, I’ll try to answer them in this post.

    The CDQ program is a tangle but upon reflection, why would anyone think it would have worked? In 1992 the government took Bering Sea fish quota worth hundreds of millions of dollars and dumped it on 65 impoverished villages in western Alaska with amazingly little guidance on what to do with it. Naturally, the people who realized the potential or were able to corner the program have hoarded the money and control to themselves. Where else would anyone think you could turn that much money over to people without clear rules and expect them to voluntarily share it with the other residents to their communities?

    I agree this has to change but the people who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo have got hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on lawyers and lobbyists to fight accountability. The people who would benefit the most from making the program fair are poor and many are uneducated which is why we have the CDQ program in the first place. It is hardly an equal fight. The worst part about it is that very few people understand what the program is supposed to do and those in control put a lot of effort into disinformation in order to preserve their unfettered access to the millions of CDQ dollars.

    As for advocacy, the best solution would be for this to be resolved at the local level but that is not easy. People in the CDQ communities are unsure of their rights and not in a strong position to demand them. The CDQ group headquarters are in Anchorage, Juneau and Seattle and they isolate themselves from village residents as much as possible.

    The Alaska congressional delegation needs to wade in and clean up the mess Don Young made with the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Act amendments that removed all state and federal oversight.

    The State of Alaska needs to pull its head out of the sand and recognize its responsibility to its citizens to make the CDQ program do what it is supposed to do. The coastal villages are suffering and the state isn’t doing anything about it.

    With regard to bylaws, yes I have the NSEDC bylaws I don’t think Vic has BBEDC’s but what good are they? The CDQ groups only follow their bylaws when it is convenient for the people in control and there isn’t much we can do about it when they don’t. You can go to a meeting and complain to the board of directors but they don’t do anything or you can write letters to the office that won’t get answered. Or you can go to court and fight lawyers with access to unlimited funds. None of those are very good choices.

    Hiding information is the name of the game. It was bad enough before but our CDQ group just spun off a privately owned for-profit corporation, Siu, controlled by 3 NSEDC board members and four of their cronies and moved most of NSEDC’s assets into it. The residents of the 15 CDQ communities don’t have any rights to any information about Siu. We can’t even go to their meetings.

    The 2006 MSA amendments opened the floodgates to incredible abuses. It privatized the CDQ program in the hands of a very few people and they plan to keep it that way by spending whatever it takes to lock us out.

    WACDA is a hoax. Try giving Executive Director Wanetta Ayers a call at (907) 868-7634 and ask her about the program. I bet she won’t talk to you but if she does, I hope you will report back to us about what she says.

    The Alaska Report article is indeed very well written, thanks to Stephen Taufen for that. I suggest sending the link to everyone you think might be interested. There is a wealth of information linked to the article that should be of interest to every CDQ program stakeholder, policy maker or agency official.

    The CDQ program is meant to serve the public, not the self-serving individuals who have a stranglehold on it and that needs to become the reality.

  34. Jim Says:

    This is an extremely complex issue, but it seems Community Development Quotas may have become Corporate Development Quotas, and these corporations may have figured out how to leverage federal law to enrich far fewer individuals than all the residents of the communities who are supposed to be served. Apparently CDQs can unfairly compete with other fishing operations.

    Regarding advocacy, should I encourage my senators to repeal Young’s recent amendments? Unfortunately, there isn’t much an urban Alaskan can do about CDQs, is there? Seems the communities will have to deal with this issue themselves. The other thing I could do is express my concerns to NOAA that this has become a mess which they should try to clean up.

    NS_Crabber, thank you very much for your comments. Good things come from Anonymous Bloggers, and I figure something good will come from this discussion. For what it is worth, as an Alaskan I’m concerned!

  35. NS_Crabber Says:

    Congress needs go back and draft legislation providing a detailed set of guidelines dealing with all of the issues that have come up about representation, transparency and accountability. Who exactly owns the CDQ program and what rights do village residents have with respect to CDQ group governance?

    You are correct Jim in pointing out one of the major problems with the current situation: the CDQ groups maintain a defacto monopoly on everything fisheries related in western Alaska. The way things are now, an individual living on the Seward Peninsula would be crazy to invest in any fisheries related business because if someone in the CDQ group doesn’t like you, NSEDC would be likely to come in and put you out of business using its millions of CDQ dollars. It has happened many times in the past and ironically, today the biggest roadblock to developing fisheries related business in our area is a federal program that was intended to promote the development of fisheries related businesses

    I would encourage you to contact the National Marine Fisheries Service and express your concerns about the CDQ program. Since the 2006 MSA amendments, NMFS has taken a hands-off approach; the agency hasn’t even written regulations to implement the changes made in 2006. They say they don’t have the authority but their own legal counsel told them they do. If not NMFS then who?

    Thanks for your concern Jim, community residents often feel powerless in situations like this when the adversary has virtually unlimited funds to pay hired guns to protect the wrong-doers.

  36. Jim Says:


    Thank you for your suggestions. I’ll contact the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Here at Anonymous Bloggers, and elsewhere, I’ve read about rural Alaska’s problems– even if CDQs were fair, efficient, and maximized their assets to benefit their communities, I’m sure there would still be problems in rural Alaska. But CDQs may be part of the problem, not part of the solution. Sounds like they need to switch gears.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving.

  37. UgaVic Says:

    NS Crabber-
    Another issue that I see lately is that CDQ groups are becoming heavliy involved in lobbying regulatory agencies on fishing issues.

    Recently this seems to involves issues that protect their business
    interstes and not those of the resident village they have as members.

    We saw this at the meeting on Chinook by-catch in April and now it looks to be happening for the upcoming Board of Fish meeting for Bristol Bay, next week.

    They work to pit one village against another with scare tactics and sponsored testimony.

    There needs to be regulation changes that forbid them from lobbying as is done with other fishing grousp such as the RSDA (regional promotion groups to help AK area fisherman)

  38. NS_Crabber Says:

    Vic, you’re not the only one appalled by the way CDQ groups have been lobbying against the interests of their member communities. The NSEDC board instructed the management to advocate for a 47,591 chinook hard cap at the April NPFMC meeting but when their spokespeople testified before the council it was in support of the industry proposal for a 60,000 hard cap.

    The board has been informed of the double dealing but the board members are powerless to do anything about it because they are afraid to risk the benefits they get by virtue of being on the board. This happens time and time again and the sad reality is that not only is there no longer any state and federal agency oversight of CDQ group management, the boards of directors and the communities have no role either. The people in control can do anything they want and get away with it.

    I expect the same thing to happen when the NPFMC considers chum salmon bycatch in early December.

  39. Man_from_Unk Says:

    It’s good to see all this discussion of the CDQs brought to Western Alaska Coastal villages via Ted Stevens in his hayday down there in Washington D.C. and then modified by Don Young in 2006. Just the names of those long time Alaskan lawmakers should be clue enough that something along the way could very well be fishy.

    NPFMC will be meeting next month. We need to get our relatives in Anchorage all charged up to go and testify to the council. Many of our urban relatives depend on us out here in rural Alaska for their Native Food stashes. They should help us continue to help them by speaking out for us in town. We don’t have access to the money to pay our fare, room and board, and per diem for 5-7 days like the CDQ management does.

    As NS_Crabber pointed out in a blog above, they are using our money against us.

  40. Man_from_Unk Says:

    One of the ways to help is to keep this discussion of the CDQs going. I’m glad to see this statewide effort to help the people understand what Congress did in 1992 to help the people of the Western Alaska Coastal villages. The Salmon By-Catch issue became so visible to a handful that it was hard to ignore anymore. That’s our cultural and traditonal livelihood on the line here. Get the word out. Revisit the acts of Congress, fill in the gray areas and make the program work as intended.

  41. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Thanks to whoever added the link to Alaska Report and to UngVic for attaching the link to The Nome Nugget. Truthful information is powerful especially if it’s written with facts that can be verified. The oral tradition of passing on information is too easy to twist into misinformation based on personal bias. Those “information holders” have that technique mastered to a T. Biased information against the truth to maintain control.

  42. NS_Crabber Says:

    Vic, how about doing a blog specifically on the CDQ program? It would make it easier for people to find.

  43. Jim Says:

    When will the NFPMC be meeting in Anchorage?

  44. NS_Crabber Says:

    The council will be meeting December 7-15 at the Hilton. Salmon bycatch will be discussed by the Advisory Panel on the 9th and by the council on the 12th and maybe the 13th.

    The agenda is here:

  45. Jim Says:


    Looking at the draft agenda, I’m not sure if they would allow me to discuss my concerns, which are:

    1. CDQs may not be operating now as they were originally envisioned.

    2. CDQs may not be serving their communities; instead they may just be enriching a smaller group of individuals.

    3. CDQs’ objectives may actually conflict with the interests of the communities they’re supposed to serve, especially with fisheries priorities (like pollock catch vs. salmon bycatch).

    The deadline for written testimony is this Wednesday– therefore, rural Alaskans probably can’t even submit written comments at this time unless they send at least 25 copies for all the notebooks. Living in Anchorage, I could possibly submit written comments but I’d be inclined to provide 25 copies just to be safe. They don’t make it easy on rural Alaskans, do they? (they won’t accept email).

    If I testify, I’d like to assure they’d actually listen and not cut me off as irrelevant or off topic– any idea on when I would testify? Would it be during the salmon bycatch agenda items? Would that be agenda C4 (c)? The only other possibility I saw, other than salmon bycatch, was D4, other business. I could ask them too.


  46. NS_Crabber Says:

    There will be public testimony before each agenda item. You have to sign up to testify before the council gets to that item and it is a good idea to submit written comments before deadline on the 2nd.

    I think it is appropriate to testify during the salmon bycatch session because the CDQ position was a major factor in the Chinook bycatch debate and will be with other species too.

  47. alaskapi Says:

    Holy moley- you folks have been busy!
    We want to expand this conversation about CDQs but need to write an overview for our neighbors and visitors who don’t know what we’re talking about…
    But I have more questions-

    The CDQs in Alaska grew out of the original Magnusson Stevens Act – which is an act designed to regulate fishing within American waters.Those set aside Community Development Quotas were to be used and managed for the benefit of coastal communities along our Bering Sea coastline- most especially for fisheries related economic growth .
    The CDQ entities were to be organized as non-profits with a mission, in a corporate model ( yagh! Ted Stevens loved the corporate model! ), with each real resident, regardless of their heritage , a stakeholder in the corporation in their area. The model was to be similar to our Native Regional Corporations with the exception that all corps were to have government oversight of the Community Development Plans and suchlike. The CDQ entities were required to make presentations and submit data to the state on a regular schedule.
    Who and what derailed the oversight function, the derailment which ended up being enshrined in Rep Young’s 2006 amendments?

    Bycatch rates were settled on in MSA as expressions of metric tons related to total catch…
    We count ( when there are observers) single salmon in bycatch numbers… but pollack industry gets to toot itself up as sustainable and all that because of miniscule portion of total tonnage which is composed of bycatch…
    Why is that sensible? Salmon don’t exist in the same place in the food chain/ecosystem as pollack… why are we not developing bycatch language which reflects the loss to the SALMON population ? And halibut? And crab?

    MSC certification for pollack is due soon…
    whether it has anything to do with real life fisheries , who knows but it sure is useful for developing markets…
    Is it going to be another cheesy shoo in for pollack presenting itself as clean industry?
    Are the CDQs who have their own pollack vessels going to be part of ignoring what sustainability might really be said to be for a marketing advantage?

    Dicennial review of CDQs is coming up in a couple years- anyone know what everyday folks can do to be part of that- within their stakeholder status?

  48. UgaVic Says:

    Ok All :-))
    I am trying to catch up with all the comments in the last few days.

    I am working on By-catch/sustainability/CDQ post. Guess I better get cracking and get it finished.

    Also I am seeing if I can get a couple of letters from our CDQ that involve the upcoming BOF meeting in ANC starting Tuesday available for us to pass around.

    Will finish reading and see what info it needed.


  49. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    I just finished watching the 6 Youtubes for her latest show “Moore Up North” @

    The first 2 were funny with Tank Jones, but then she pulled in her panel – Ethan Berkowitz, Steve Heimel and Rick Steiner. Okay, totally diverse group (wasn’t sure it would be interesting to me, to be honest).

    I’ve just now watched last 4 tapes twice, it was THAT good! What I would like you to see, if it’s the only tape you watch is Part-4, 5:27mark when that radio guy gets going on the Yukon River fish counter, cutting off sustenance. They really start getting into the meat of the problems. Part-5 they get into Pebble Mine, at the end they talk about Marshall fish poaching.

    If you have chance, I HIGHLY recommend watching them. I learned a LOT!

  50. alaskapi Says:

    Hadn’t realized Ms Moore had those videos available already- will have to watch.

  51. alaskapi Says:

    For you Kath-
    We haven’t heard very much since the road closed into Eagle but we’re still watching. What a summer!

    jeez- what a messy link- hope it works…

  52. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Written comments to the upcoming North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is due in three days – December 2!

  53. UgaVic Says:

    Here are two links to what looks to be the newest attempt by a CDQ to influence a fishery meeting.

    The Alaska Board of Fish meeting for Bristol Bay issues starts tomorrow, December 1, and it looks like there is an effort to stack testimony on a number of issues.

    What I continue to find interesting is we are trying to teach our kids that they can do anything and YET here we continue to have the head of a CDQ saying that our villagers can’t compete.

    All it takes is one look at any of the AFN Alaska Marketplace competitions to see how innovative our villagers are. Just living in a village takes more than the normal skills for just living.

    Bristol Bay fishermen are being told they need to continue to upgrade how they take care of their fish to compete on the world market, as recently as this week. Yet we are the ONLY drift fleet with a boat size limit in the state. We get the lowest price for our Sockeye in the state, might these items go together?

    I will get a recent survey paid for by our CDQ, that has been quoted for some time from what I hear but JUST released, posted in a bit. From those who I have reviewing it they have already picked up on a major flaw in the data gathered and relied on for conclusions. (more common that not when an out of state, even with AK ‘experience’, company is needing to draw conclusions for a issue or project)

    Gotta wonder why all that CDQ money is being spent except to possibly protect their own interests??

    (Remember at least one CDQ, BBEDC, is a 50% owner of a major Alaska salmon processor, Ocean Beauty

    Allowing fishermen to have larger boats, and to own and fish more than one permit so they can actually support their families in a village are proposals before the board. Alaska residents and especially BB residents have advantages to help them buy permits that out of state people do not YET we hear how the big bad out of state people will buy up all the permits if this goes through. Something doesn’t come together for me on this argument.

    Many feel this will also allow those who fish other salmon besides Sockeye, like Kings and Silvers to have room on their boat to do some extra tasks and make more from those fish.

    ALL this puts pressure on the supply of fish which the processors DO NOT want, despite a sizable foregone harvest of Sockeye each year in Bristol Bay. (Foregone is when the processors put fishermen on a limit due to processor’s limited capacity. This usually happens when the fish are running the strongest)

    More to come as this gets more interesting

  54. UgaVic Says:

    Kath –
    Thanks, will be sure to watch those.

    Man From –
    Am reviewing proposals now. Spouse is going to be there for the joint meeting with the BOF.

    Back to working on those fishing posts!!!

  55. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    Thx Alaskapi for the article on Eagle medical facility! The link worked just fine.

  56. alaskapi Says:

    Thanks to you too Kath!
    Just watched the videos, online, of Ms Moore’s show. I don’t have TV so it’s neat to get to see the show.
    I really enjoyed the panel and thought of a couple hundred more questions to ask them .:-)

  57. Man_from_Unk Says:

    I went back to read the coverage of last April’s NPFMC meeting on King/Chinook Salmon by catch by ugavic. Excellent job.

    I was wondering if someone was going to attend the up coming meeting next week when NPFMC addresses the Chum Salmon by catch issue.

    People all along the Yukon, into Canada, the coastal villages along the Bering Sea, from Bristol Bay north to Wales, Alaska, have depended on salmon for generations. This nationally shared resource has been wasted as by catch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. Fewer and fewer salmon are returning to the rivers to spawn.

    Dog Salmon are being addressed this month. This resource is at risk as well. Hopefully the Regulators will hear the message from the people like they did for the hearing on King Salmon by catch this past spring.

  58. Jim Says:


    I would go, (I live in Anchorage) but after thinking about it more, I doubt my testimony would do any good. I’m concerned for the people along the Yukon, I worry about the effect of pollock bycatch; I wonder if some CDQ groups may not be serving their communities (especially related to the Yukon’s salmon fisheries), but I have no first hand experience.

  59. Man_from_Unk Says:

    Check out the Moore Up North show on her website dated December 12, 2009 and The Mud Flats picked up the story titled “Something’s fishy” the other day. “Nome’s own Tim Smith” as he is often quoted in The Nome Nugget, has come a long way in his effort to bring justice and equality to the Norton Sound region. Way to go!

    The more we bring the issue of the CDQS out into the public eye, both state and national, the better chance we’ll get to effect change in the way the Poor Peoples Mismanaged Millions are being used. Please don’t let this discussion die. Thousands of poor people do not have internet access but some of their relatives do and stories are being told based on the stories we few are writing. We have to keep it going to help SAVE the SALMON.

  60. alaskapi Says:

    Ms Moore did an incredible job with this show and this panel.
    And- we won’t let this discussion die…
    It’s too important.
    Thank you for stopping in.

  61. UgaVic Says:

    I did just get a chance to watch Shannyn’s show and am impressed with it.

    We will keep this going. It is TOO important for all of Rural Alaska to allow it to die.

    More to come in the weeks and month ahead as we dig, ask and speak up about what all we can and can not find out.

    Thanks for sticking in there with us on the hunt for a better future!!

  62. Jim Says:

    Alaskapi and Man from Unk:

    I’d encourage one or both of you to introduce a discussion here devoted exclusively to CDQs, or perhaps form an independent blog on the issue. People like myself need to learn more about this from people who understand it (you). Then perhaps we could develop tangible goals to pursue and advocate.

  63. alaskapi Says:

    More fish, MUCH fish , to come soon…

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