Non-Kaska hunting in Ross River Dena Council’s (RRDC) traditional territory this season have been largely respectful of its new hunting rules, a councillor for the First Nation says.
Earlier this summer, RRDC placed ads in the News stating that it would require all non-Kaska hunters hoping to hunt in the Ross River area this season to obtain a permit directly from the First Nation. It also issued a moratorium on hunting in 11 areas and an early end to hunting on moose, caribou and sheep.
While the ads appeared to have initially caught the Yukon government and many hunters off-guard, RRDC councillor Derrick Redies said that interactions between RRDC members and hunters in Ross River and out on the land throughout hunting season have been “largely positive.”
“Naturally, I knew there was going to be people that were for it and people that are against it, but largely, it’s been hugely positive,” Redies said in an interview Sept. 28. “I mean, a lot of the non-Kaska hunters that have applied, I’ve had some dialogue with them, they totally understand why and it’s very humbling for me to know that such a large number of the people we’re dealing with really understood the initiatives.”
Redies said he hasn’t seen any of the racist comments posted online in response to news about the RRDC’s hunting rules, but would invite anyone who feels “like they’re being threatened or pushed away to first come down, learn more about our culture and maybe that will provide a little more understanding as to why we’re taking this initiative.”
“I would always take the opportunity to first say that, we were not about trying to shut down or keep out any non-Kaska hunters, you know?” he said. “… We’ve got the inherent duty, responsibility and rights that we want to protect.”
The issue is so important to RRDC, he added, that the First Nation has taken on introducing and enforcing its permits and moratoriums without any funding, with elders even “pulling their own money out of their pockets” to help pay for the newspaper ads.
“That’s pretty powerful, it just shows the commitment that they have,” Redies said.
RRDC will “absolutely” have permits in place again next year, Redies said. He’s also hopeful that RRDC will be able to have more conversations with the Yukon government on hunting and conservation issues so that “we can come to some form of collaboration and understanding.”
“We have to co-exist together, we’re not just going to go away,” he said.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org