Mary Sattler Peltola
Bethel / Anchorage | Executive Director, Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
“We are not disparate factions, to various degrees salmon loving or salmon deserving; Alaska as a whole is a Salmon state, and we are all closely tied to Salmon. If we can peacefully discuss and manage our salmon stocks and fisheries, we can do anything.”
Mary Sattler Peltola spent ten years as a State Representative from Bethel. She worked in community relations for six years for the Donlin Gold project and for the last three years has been a registered lobbyist to the Alaska State Legislature and co-chair of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group.
Peltola was raised commercial salmon fishing and tendering. She worked for the Department of Fish and Game during her college years as a Fisheries Technician and is now a subsistence salmon fisherman. As a lifetime user of the Kuskokwim River's subsistence resources, Peltola progressively defends the need for a precautionary approach to fisheries management using a complementary blend of traditional knowledge and western science. Peltola, her husband, their seven children, and her father in law harvest and preserve salmon at their Kuskokwim River fish camp each summer. Harvesting and processing salmon is a huge part of her personal and family identity.
“When I am discussing Chinook salmon, it is a full body experience,” she explains. “I am so invested in this species, it is as though I’m thinking and talking about an immediate family member’s welfare. Salmon is a cornerstone species- not just in our ecosystems, but in the Alaskan economy and in Alaska’s identity. If we can maintain the health of our salmon stocks, we can maintain the health of our economy, our identity and our relationships with one another.”
Peltola has served on numerous statewide and local boards, including The Nature Conservancy, the Foraker Group, the Alaska Humanities Forum, Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites of Alaska, Alaska 20/20, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club of Alaska, Kuimarvik, Kuskokwim Little League, Suicide Prevention Council, Governor's Council on Safe Water, The Tolerance Commission, and the Bethel City Council.