WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a committee oversight hearing titled, “Keep What You Catch: Promoting Traditional Subsistence Activities in Native Communities.”
“Subsistence involves the harvest of local resources for local consumption,” said Hoeven. “Many Indian tribes across the country have practiced and maintained a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years.… As the original stewards, tribes have demonstrated conservation practices for their natural resources. It is important that the federal government enact subsistence policies that promote the interests of their communities.”
The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Jennifer Hardin, subsistence policy coordinator for the Office of Subsistence Management at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Roy Brown, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council; Mary Sattler Peltola, executive director of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission; and A-dae Romero-Briones, director of programs for Native Agriculture and Food Systems at the First Nations Development Institute.
For witness testimony and hearing video click here.
Senator Hoeven’s full remarks:
“Today we will examine subsistence hunting and fishing in tribal communities and evaluate how Congress, the Administration, tribes, and tribal organizations can work together to alleviate regulatory limitations on this traditional way of life.
“Subsistence involves the harvest of local resources for local consumption. Many Indian tribes across the country have practiced and maintained a subsistence lifestyle for thousands of years.
“This way of life has provided fundamental benefits, from supplying critical food sources to preserving culture.
“Subsistence is prevalent among Indian communities across the country.
“In the Pacific Northwest, American Indians and Alaska Natives harvest, process, distribute and consume millions of pounds of wild animals, fish and plants. These practices are critical for the cultural longevity and economic vitality of these tribal communities.
“In the Midwest, tribes engage in traditional hunting and fishing.
“All over the nation, Native communities show tremendous care for the land and environment. However, government policy can often limit their ability to live out this subsistence lifestyle.
“As the original stewards, tribes have demonstrated conservation practices for their natural resources. It is important that the federal government enact subsistence policies that promote the interests of their communities.
“Both overregulation and lack of oversight can affect the availability of, and access to, tribal resources. Federal involvement in natural resource management, through laws such as the Endangered Species Act, must be balanced. The government should not dictate what Native communities can or cannot do on their own lands or disrupt the exercise of their hunting and fishing treaty rights.
“It has been several Congresses since this committee has held a hearing examining this important topic. I want to thank our witnesses for being with us this morning.
“Subsistence policies that support tribal interests are vital to the health and cultural survival of tribal communities, and I look forward to hearing our witnesses’ recommendations on how this committee and this Congress can help support subsistence and traditional ways of life in Indian Country.”