Kings of the wild frontier

In 2013, I sat in a courtroom in Bethel, Alaska, and watched the trial of 23 Yup’ik fishermen, accused of flouting a ban on the fishing of king salmon the previous summer. The ban had been implemented by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as king salmon numbers plummeted, unexpectedly and inexplicably. The fishermen pleaded not guilty. They were justified in fishing, they said, because the taking of king salmon was part of their spiritual practice, their cultural heritage. First amendment. Mike Williams, then chief of the Yup’ik nation, pulled me to one side during a recess. “Gandhi had his salt, we have our salmon,” he said. For the Yup’ik, getting arrested was no accident. They had issued a press release about their intention to fish before setting out. >click to read< 14:46

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