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Alaska Natives Rally As Judge Considers Whether Salmon Fishing is a Religious Rite

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About 40 people in the Western Alaska regional hub city of Bethel took an hour or two out of their day, Monday, to join in a show of resistance to government action they view as unfair to Alaska Natives. The rally was organized in tandem with the growing Canadian-based "Idle No More" movements for indigenous rights and sovereignty.

Related: Photos of Alaska Native Rally | Is Salmon Fishing a Religious Rite?

Those who turned out for the event came with a diverse set of wrongs they'd like to see righted, with most focusing on access to hunting and fishing resources by Alaska Natives.

"We put a subsistence twist on it because of the subsistence issues we've been facing," said Tim Andrew, Director of Natural Resources for the Bethel-based Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP).

The council has stood behind the nearly two dozen fishermen who are defendants in a state court case charging them with breaking the law last summer when they went fishing during an emergency river closure -- a decision state fishery managers made to try and make sure enough Chinook salmon made it to their spawning grounds to ensure the runs continue in coming years.

It's a particularly timely issue, given that the region is awaiting a judge's decision this week about whether fishing for salmon by Native residents is a religious activity that merits government protection. ...

Read the complete story and see photos from the rally only at Alaska Dispatch.