Before 1970, both Alaskans and non-Alaskans were allowed to commercially fish. Tribal families remained enthusiastic and strong in their vibrant fishing livelihoods and careful stewardship over the resources offered by the land and sea. Eventually, the influx of outside fishermen spurred the creation of the Limited Entry fisheries program which was based on a point system. Points were “earned” through a complex system, that denied points if a person did not fish during a particular year. Although some Native families were awarded permits, many more were denied, especially since Limited Entry was activated during the Vietnam War era when many Tribal members were away and overseas serving in the Armed Forces.
The Limited Entry system was forced on all who wanted to fish commercially. This worked out for some, but not for others, especially Alaska Native families whose primary livelihood, means of support and food source for their families, was fishing. When Limited Entry was conceived, there was no consultation with Tribes and Tribal members directly affected by this new law – including those whose restricted deed or “Trust” properties were connected with the Tribe’s fishing rights and fully warranted protection by the U.S. Government.