Alaska Southeastern Coasts 1903 Map

This map shows the names and locations of the major fish companies operating in Southeast Alaska in 1903.

Alaska was a territory at this time and fishing was the most lucrative of the natural resources that outside investors were concerned about. Powerful lobbyists in conjunction with Washington DC politicians allowed these companies to manipulate policies that maximized profits but at the same time hurt salmon stocks. Fish traps were the preferred method of supplying canneries with the needed fish and there was very little oversight and management as to what the impact was to salmon populations throughout the region.

Local indigenous people could see the damage but were ignored when they brought their concerns to the authorities. The use of fish traps was a big enough concern that over time it became clear that a political group was needed to bring this to the attention of Washington DC. The Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) became very active in limiting and eventually shutting down fish traps in SE Alaska and articulating the need for the Territory of Alaska to become a state.