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Existence and Persistence: Preserving Subsistence in Cordova, Alaska

17 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2011 Last revised: 13 Aug 2012

Danielle S. Pensley


Date Written: April 4, 2012


Ordinary existence in Cordova, Alaska illustrates an extraordinary range of subsistence practice. Despite cataclysmic disruptions to include the arrival of whites and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, the practice continues to animate a self-reliant and pluralistic society with a distinct local identity. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 is up to the crucial task of protecting subsistence in Cordova. The statute directs the federal government “to foster conditions under which our modern society and our prehistoric and historic resources can exist in productive harmony and fulfill the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” Adverse effects to the wild salmon of the Copper River Basin should trigger the consultative process of NHPA Section 106, as would be the case under the implementing regulations with any other object of functional, aesthetic, cultural, or scientific value that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or that is listing-eligible. Alternatively a landscape, even a very large landscape like the Copper River Basin, is analogous to an urban or rural architectural district and on that basis should be listing-eligible.

Keywords: Eyak, Southcentral Alaska, subsistence practice, National Historic Preservation Act, Copper River Delta, traditional cultural properties, Pacific salmon

Suggested Citation

Pensley, Danielle S., Existence and Persistence: Preserving Subsistence in Cordova, Alaska (April 4, 2012). Environmental Law Reporter, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Danielle S. Pensley (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Fairbanks, AK 99707

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