ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A group seeking to advance civil rights of Alaska Natives through economic measures has targeted two sport fishing and hunting organizations -- and anyone associated with them -- for boycotts.
The Alaska Economic Boycott Committee wants Native individuals and organizations to boycott activities of the Alaska Outdoor Council and the Territorial Sportsmen, plus businesses who support them and elected officials who receive their campaign contributions.
''These two groups have worked long and hard to deprive us of our cultural, traditional and human right to practice our heritage of fishing and hunting to survive,'' said Desa Jacobsson, one of six Alaska Natives on the committee.
Both groups have opposed an amendment to the Alaska Constitution to allow a subsistence hunting and fishing priority for rural residents. Federal law passed in 1980 requires that rural residents receive the preference to protect rights for Alaska Natives who surrendered aboriginal land claims.
The Alaska Constitution states that fish, wildlife and water are to be reserved for the common use of all Alaskans.
Dick Bishop of Fairbanks, an AOC vice president, said his group's record is clear. The AOC supports subsistence lifestyles and a priority use of fish and game for subsistence users. What they take issue with is a preference for rural Alaskans.
''They should not be discriminated against based on their zip code or the color of their skin,'' Bishop said of subsistence users.
He also took issue with the contention that opposing a rural preference is anti-Native.
''That's pure nonsense,'' he said.
The Alaska Economic Boycott Committee, which is not affiliated with any other Native groups, was formed in response to a drive-by paintball attack on Alaska Natives in Anchorage earlier this year.
Bishop said that if the boycott committee is trying to associate the Alaska Outdoor Council or the Territorial Sportsmen, one if its member groups, with any violence, hate crimes or discrimination, it would be a fabrication.
The boycott group also wants Native organizations to avoid Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau for conventions or meetings until the communities support Native cultures and the enactment of hate crime legislation.
The boycott is to continue until the Legislature enacts hate crime legislation; the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds hearings in Alaska on acts of violence and discrimination against Native people; and Alaska businesses, governments submit an employment opportunity plan for people who have been excluded.
Committee member John Tetpon of Anchorage said the group has not targeted individual legislators.
''We're discussing that possibility right now with the committee,'' Tetpon said, but for now, they are referring people to the Alaska Public Offices Commission web site for who should be boycotted based on their connection to the outdoors groups.
Tetpon describes the boycott committee as a group of concerned grandparents.
He acknowledged that the group had a long list of objectives to accomplish before they call off the boycott.
''When you go back to Florida to retire, Dan, we'll still be here,'' he said. ''We don't have anywhere else to go.''
On the Net:
Alaska Economic Boycott Committee information: http://www.tribalnews.com/
Alaska Public Offices Commission: http://www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/ADMIN/apoc/home.htm
Alaska Outdoor Council: http://www.alaskaoutdoorcouncil.org/
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