By Seth Kantner
For The Cordova Times
Do you love to hunt and fish? Do you live to camp, boat, trap, drive snowmobiles and build fires, get your hands bloody and cook fresh meat?
Are you an Alaskan who like me enjoys, and lives, and needs to shoot and catch animals and fish for food, and pick berries, set gillnets, and gather and preserve your own meals from the land?
How about being fooled, tricked, and lied to—do you enjoy that?
That is what I see the big corporations doing to us lately, statewide, when it comes to Ballot Measure 1, otherwise known as Stand for Salmon.
Conoco Phillips, BP, Exxon and other corporations are spending millions to spread their propaganda across Alaska. They’re using ads that skirt the truth and make people afraid for their jobs and the future, and using handpicked ‘experts’ to spread smokescreens of fear in our communities.
That huge ‘investment’ in our state has one goal: to get Alaskans to vote AGAINST what we know matters: clean water and land to hunt and fish on and gather food from.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no simple issue. This vote will be us deciding if we just want more development—to hell with the consequences–or more responsible development. Many of us experience an amazing brand of freedom, living here on a former frontier. These giant companies want that same freedom–in a colossal way.
Measure 1 would change things for those corporations, forcing them to be more responsible. Measure 1 will not affect our hunting. Not anywhere, statewide. Period. That line was made up by the big corporations and their PR machines to scare us Alaskans.
They certainly have a reason for wanting to scare us. They’re scared.
Measure 1 does not affect where we can drive our snowmobiles, ATVs, boats, where we can land Supercubs, floatplanes, hovercrafts, or where we shoot, camp, skin caribou, catch grayling, pick blueberries, urinate in the willows, or roast our marshmallows on our big campfires. Period. The corporations made that up, too, to scare voters.
Please don’t be tricked. Measure 1 does not affect who or where anyone can hook fish or net fish in Alaska—sport or subsistence—and will not affect commercial fishermen in any way. I would be worried if it did. I’ve commercial fished for the last 45 years, and plan to continue.
Make no mistake, Measure 1 will affect big corporations, the ones who are attempting to use our votes to shield themselves from having to be responsible on our land.
Measure 1 was written by Alaskans who like to catch and eat salmon, for Alaskans who like to catch and eat salmon. Please don’t be lied to: the corporations—many of them like BP, foreign companies—claim Measure 1 was written by Outsiders, by Anti-Trappers or Poodle-Lovers from the Lower-Forty-Eight, but in fact it was written by Alaska Native leaders, local fishermen, and a few super smart ladies from Anchorage. It was then further drafted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Measure 1 is as Alaskan as it gets, folks.
The sole purpose of Measure 1 is to protect our rivers and salmon. Look down south, if you want to see how salmon have been decimated on most continents by big development, and why these protections matter so much.
Those mega-corporations live by numbers, and their numbers show them that the most cost-effective way to deal with this salmon ‘problem’ has nothing to do with salmon–and everything to do with people. The cheapest way is to frighten Alaskans into voting against these safeguards for our rivers. Period.
If you’ve wondered lately why these corporations suddenly seem concerned with your hunting and fishing rights, that is why. Don’t worry, they don’t want your fish, moose or caribou meat. They have come for your vote.
On November 6th we the people have a decision to make. We will decide the level of care and responsibility we’re willing to give our home, our Alaska. I hope each Alaskan will think carefully in their own head and heart about how much they care about their land and water. That is a serious decision. It’s ours. And it should never be mixed up with any corporation’s greed or secondhand fear.
I hope we say Yes to what we love, and work together to keep on fishing and hunting forever, all across this big beautiful clean state, ALASKA.
Author and photographer Seth Kantner, born, raised and a resident of Northwest Alaska, is the author of the best-seller Ordinary Wolves and other books.