PUBLISHED: 11:17 AM on Tuesday, October 17, 2006
How are Native leaders helping?
My name is Viola Burgess. I live in Hydaburg. My grandmother and grandfather were from Tlingkwaan before they moved to Howakan to attend the mission school. They were married in a big wedding in the church. We are Raven Two-Finned Whale Clan. Many of us in Hydaburg trace our families to Long Island.

Like many native communities throughout Alaska, my people depend heavily on our ability to gather our traditional food. We use Long Island a lot. We have always used Long Island. We hunt its shores for deer and berries, and we collect crabs, gumboots, and cockles. Since the price of gasoline and other goods has been rising, families in Hydaburg rely on traditional foods even more.

These foods are shared throughout the community. People share them with the elders, with the children. We have always done this. We will always do this.

I am writing because I am sick. Klukwan, Inc. plans to spray the island with a brew of chemicals that has never been tested. I can't believe that somebody would want to spray chemicals where our children and elders get their food. This is madness.

I want to know what our Native leaders are doing about this important issue. What are the people running for office going to do about this? Are they going to let our elders be poisoned? Are they going to stand up for our culture, our way of life? Or are they going to let us be poisoned? I want to know.

Viola Burgess