SANDY BEACH SAMPLING PROJECT
DIA Territory and Lands
The Taku (Douglas) and Auk people have both historically occupied the Juneau area. The Taku people separated from the Tribe at Atlin Lake after the establishment of the Canadian border, moving down the Taku River to the coast. They had villages along the Taku River and Inlet. The Taku Indians would still travel upstream and overland to tributaries of the Yukon to trade withInterior Indians, including the Atlin Lake Tribe.
The historical Taku territory has included Taku River, Taku Inlet, Taku Harbor, Limestone Inlet, Port Snettisham, Admiralty, and Douglas. The territory was continuously used, as seasonal hunting and fishing camps moved around based on the availability of fish and game. After gold was discovered in the Juneau area, both the Taku and
Auk Tribes moved closer to the Juneau settlement to further their tribal economies with trade and labor opportunities. The Taku village moved to the vicinity of Bishop Point, and then to Douglas.
Like many Tlingit and Haida Tribes in Southeast Alaska, the DIA only has possessory rights for a small fraction of their historic territory. Many of the Taku settlements were temporary or seasonal, and there is little evidence of lands with permanent and exclusive use that is needed for possessory rights. The DIA has possessory rights for a small inlet north of Taku Harbor, where a hooligan camp is situated, an area near Limestone Inlet, and a few cabins.
All of Steven’s Passage from below Gambier Bay and Holkam Bay, including Port Snettisham, Taku Inlet, and the lesser bays and inlets, continues to be used for hunting, trapping, and fishing by Taku Natives together with non-Native residents and travelers, and other Native peoples (Goldschmidt and Haas, 1998).
The lands used by the DIA membership have physical characteristics typical of the Southeast region. Terrain consists of steep slopes, rocky coastlines, and forested mountains. The Taku lands fall within the Tongass National Rainforest. Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) dominate the forest canopies. Soils are typically organic at higher elevations and support shrub and forested wetlands. Coastal soils are shallow with bedrock outcroppings. Valleys in this region were carved by glaciers and have broad U-shapes; other valleys are short and steep and coalesce to form these larger bowls. Valley soils are well drained due to the steep topography, allowing them to support the spruce-hemlock forests characteristic of Southeast Alaska.
Sandy Beach Site Description
Sandy Beach is located on Douglas Island adjacent to the historic Treadwell Mine that was Shut down in 1917.
- The beach is used by DIA tribal members for collection of traditional subsistence food resources as well as by the general public for recreational purposes.
- Public facilities at the beach include picnic shelters, public bathrooms, and an upland trail system with multiple outlets onto the beach.
Sandy Beach Sampling
Site sampling was conducted at Sandy Beach in 2014 and in 2016:
- In 2014, A total of 6 Dungeness crab,12 clams, and 8 sediment samples were collected and analyzed from Sandy Beach area.
- In 2016, a total of 8 sediment samples were collected to further characterize the extent of possible contamination.
- In both events sample analysis was performed to determine whether methylmercury, inorganic arsenic, and lead pose a potential risk to tribal members through direct contact with sediments or through consumption of local seafood.
Sandy Beach Sampling Analytical Results
- High levels of arsenic, inorganic arsenic, mercury and methylmercury were detected in most sediments and tissue samples at concentrations that exceeded human health screening levels and ecological screening levels.
- The collective analytical results indicate that Sandy Beach sediments, clam tissue, and crab tissue pose a potential exposure risk to humans.