For those new to Alaska, or perhaps under a certain age, why Alaska became a state might be a mystery. In the 1950s statehood certainly wasn’t a sure thing, with powerful forces from the Lower 48 opposing it.
The main driver for statehood, and its opposition, stemmed from the same thing: salmon. Alaskans wanted control over the horribly mismanaged federally-run fisheries, but the Seattle processors didn’t want to see Alaskans implement more restrictive regulations.
However the Seattle canneries were running the salmon fisheries into the ground, largely through the use of the most efficient fish-catching device the world had ever seen: fish traps.
Gustavus author and historian James Mackovjak’s latest book is called “Alaska Salmon Traps.” He gave a lecture on the subject last week in Anchorage that was streamed to colleges and libraries around the state.
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