U.S. Senate committee visits Bethel to hear about salmon crisis

Lisa Murkowski
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Vice Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is coming to Bethel on Friday.

According to a statement from the committee its vice chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, will lead a field oversight hearing entitled “The Impact of the Historic Salmon Declines on the Health and Well-Being of Alaska Native Communities Along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers.” Afterwards, there will be an open forum listening session.

In a call to KYUK on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola applauded the committee’s visit.

“It’s really wonderful that Senator Murkowski is making that effort and bringing her Senate colleagues out there,” Peltola said. “I know that people along the Kuskokwim River and folks who can join from the Yukon, this has been something that they’ve wanted for a long time.”

Before she was elected to Congress, Peltola ran the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, where she watched the process of consultation between federal officials and local residents work firsthand.

“Our cultures are meeting cultures. We process things through talking them out. And that’s how we build consensus and kind of get buy-in for some compromises,” Peltola said. “But our fishermen have been compromising for a long time.”

The field oversight hearing and listening session will be open to the public and will take place at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, located at 700 Chief Eddie Hoffman Hwy., at 1 p.m. Friday. There will be a live webcast, and KYUK will also broadcast the hearing.

Invited witnesses will provide testimony during the field oversight hearing, and members of the public will have the opportunity to provide comments on the record during the listening session. The record will be open for two weeks after the hearing for written comments to be submitted at testimony@indian.senate.gov.

Testimony will be provided by the following witnesses invited by the committee:

  • Thaddeus Tikium Jr., Chairperson, Association of Village Council Presidents
  • Brian Ridley, Chief/Chairman, Tanana Chiefs Conference
  • Jonathan Samuelson, Chair, Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Karma Ulvi, Chair, Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Dan Winkelman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation
  • Nicole Borromeo, Executive Vice President, Alaska Federation of Natives
  • Tisha Neviq’aq Kuhns, Vice President of Land and Natural Resources, Calista Corporation 
  • Charles Menadelook, Subsistence Director, Kawerak, Inc.
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