Clear-cut logging site at Humpback Creek near Yakutat. (Courtesy of Defend Yakutat)

Residents in the Southeast Alaska community of Yakutat have struggled with a logging conflict in recent years. The community’s Alaska Native corporation, Yak-Tat Kwaan started a logging subsidiary, Yak Timber in 2018. The business began harvesting trees but ran into trouble when it proposed logging the nearby island of Khaantak and then started logging at Humpback Creek.

Corporation shareholders have voiced opposition saying these areas are culturally important. The Humpback Creek site could hold house pits and a stone wall, according to some archaeologists. The local tribe and regional tribal government, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska have asked Yak Timber to stop logging. But it hasn’t. The corporation says it needs to make a profit as part the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and they have loans to pay off.

There have also been disputes around the corporation’s recent election process.

Freelance journalist, Nat Herz visited Yakutat for a few days in mid-January to investigate. He wrote about his trip in his newsletter Northern Journal. And he spoke with CoastAlaska’s Angela Denning who has also reported on the situation. He says Yakutat seems to agree that Humpback Creek is significant, but should it prevent logging is still in question.

You can find Herz’s writing about Yakutat at Northern Journal.