Alaskan Native Fishing

music
ambience: fishing ambience

In Alaska, the end of summer signals the end of open water fishing to Interior Koyukon Athabascan Indians. By the end of this month, the rivers can freeze up as the snow begins to fall. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Orville Huntington of the village of Hilia checks his gill net on the Koyukuk River. He says that the Native elders call this place the “all around spot,” because you can always catch fish there no matter how high the river water level is. At dusk, after a long day of moose hunting, Orville pulls in his two nets. Now whitefish is Orville’s fish of choice, but lately that’s not what’s been landing in his net.

“Catching a lot of Coho salmon this year. Record run of Coho because nobody fishes for Coho. Elders don’t like them. They’re too soft. Cut it open, it’s bright red meat, but people around here don’t like them.”

So mostly around these parts, Coho salmon get fed to the dogs.

“Yep that’s all they’re good for around here. This neck of the woods. Dog food. These are the ones I like, elders like them too, nice fat whitefish. You can make dryfish out of it, or, the eggs are delicious. Whitefish eggs are a delicacy around here. And just pull the net in, and throw it in this here tub. I said I’m done with the year, but I might just set it down in front of town when I get back, for a couple days, try my luck there. Set it for a day, you never know, you might catch ten or twenty fish in a day. Before the ice flows. Right?”

Athabascan fisherman, Orville Huntington. Our thanks to Kathy Turco for the recordings.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.

music

Alaskan Native Fishing

You might be surprised to learn what sort of fish gets relegated to dog food by Alaskan native fishermen.
Air Date:09/24/2001
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: fishing ambience

In Alaska, the end of summer signals the end of open water fishing to Interior Koyukon Athabascan Indians. By the end of this month, the rivers can freeze up as the snow begins to fall. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Orville Huntington of the village of Hilia checks his gill net on the Koyukuk River. He says that the Native elders call this place the "all around spot," because you can always catch fish there no matter how high the river water level is. At dusk, after a long day of moose hunting, Orville pulls in his two nets. Now whitefish is Orville's fish of choice, but lately that's not what's been landing in his net.

"Catching a lot of Coho salmon this year. Record run of Coho because nobody fishes for Coho. Elders don’t like them. They’re too soft. Cut it open, it's bright red meat, but people around here don't like them."

So mostly around these parts, Coho salmon get fed to the dogs.

"Yep that's all they’re good for around here. This neck of the woods. Dog food. These are the ones I like, elders like them too, nice fat whitefish. You can make dryfish out of it, or, the eggs are delicious. Whitefish eggs are a delicacy around here. And just pull the net in, and throw it in this here tub. I said I’m done with the year, but I might just set it down in front of town when I get back, for a couple days, try my luck there. Set it for a day, you never know, you might catch ten or twenty fish in a day. Before the ice flows. Right?"

Athabascan fisherman, Orville Huntington. Our thanks to Kathy Turco for the recordings.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.

music