Developing local economies and trading in SE Alaska, just like in the old days!
By Terrance Henry Booth, Sr. – Tsimshian
In the not too far distant past and noted in our tribal history of the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian these tribes once traded and bartered with one another. How is this? This writer’s late father, Ira C. Booth, of Metlakatla, Alaska did a partial tracing of the Tsimshian Trade Route in Southeast Alaska and found in Angoon, Alaska upon visiting that Tlingit Village verifying that they once did trade and barter with one another. To this day among the Tlingit Dancers of Angoon are three Tsimshian Songs. Prior to the singing of these songs their Dance Leader announces to the audience that their entrance songs came from the Tsimshian upon their visits to trade and barter. The same in Yakutat, Alaska the Mt. St. Elias Tlingit Dancers for their entrance songs they too announce how they received the Tsimshian Songs. They announce the Tsimshian came among them to trade and barter. Far south located on the Olympic Peninsula, is the Makah Nation, they know of the Tsimshian and it is said by them that they traded and bartered with them and Tsimshian Canoes were either going south along the Pacific Coast or going back home going back north.
The tribal leadership of Southeast Alaska should readily note that small Native businesses are important for preserving their cultures, building tribal capacity, increasing tribal self-sufficiency, and retaining money within their Native communities. Without small Native businesses within tribal lands, the tribal leaders should know that money that was earned within tribal lands can be spent elsewhere, for the Native business efforts to build strong communities for the future the Southeast Alaska Tribes should begin to take action steps to have an economic analysis of their tribal settings and see where the dollars goes off tribal lands and dollars from the tribal setting goes elsewhere and thus, a poor tribal economy. One will readily note that there may be several economic leakages meaning dollars are spent elsewhere and much dollars leaves the tribal settings. Tribal Governments, Native Corporations goods and services dollars go off the tribal setting to pay for goods and services and a solution is implementing more Native businesses initiated to stop these economic leakages and capture dollars that would otherwise go elsewhere.
In Southeast Alaska the Natives participate with several fisheries; however, the tribes are only active in harvesting and processing. What is needed is a Southeast Alaska Native Fisheries Alliance to gain self-empowering and fuller control of their fisheries from harvesting, processing, marketing and sales. Why? This writer last week was at a well-known grocery store chain and in their seafood display was fresh wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon selling for one fillet $28 Dollars and how much did the Native Fisherman make? The Native Processing Plants need to combine forces to take complete control of their fisheries by doing their own marketing and sales and reap the financial benefits of direct marketing. As it is now Natives only lease their facilities, work for other companies, work for a particular seafood buyer or work with seafood brokers. All these companies the Natives work for reap more financial benefits by not having full participation of our raw seafood products and the company’s value-add and even reap more financial profits.