Frances Lee investigates threats to subsistence fishing with Melissa Watkinson and Haliehana Stepetin


As a 2019-20 Environmental Justice Investigative Journalism Fellow for Seattle Globalist, M.A. in Cultural Studies alum Frances Lee (’18) examined the threats of climate change and pollution to marine subsistence harvesting. In their article “Declining Marine Health Threatens Traditional Subsistence Fishing for Tribes," published in the South Seattle Emerald, Lee discusses shellfish harvesting as means of sustenance for native tribes and “an essential component of their cultures and traditions.”

Lee interviewed fellow alum Melissa Watkinson (M.A. in Policy Studies '15; Global Studies and Society, Ethics & Human Behavior '11), a queer Indigenous woman, citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and descendant of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, who grew up in Puget Sound and has witnessed dramatic changes to the local environment. Watkinson is a social scientist for Washington Sea Grant who chose to live in Bremerton for access to healthy shellfish.

Alum Haliehana Stepetin (M.A. in Cultural Studies ’18) also shared her experiences as a fisherwoman and subsistence practitioner. Stepetin is Unangax̂, born on Akutan in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and is currently pursuing a PhD in Native American Studies at UC Davis. “We say ‘when the tide is out the table is set,’” said Stepetin. “It’s upholding those relationships of kinship and stewardship for our other-than-human relatives,” she said. “Because without them, we don’t survive.”  Read Lee’s article for more of Watkinson’s and Stepetin’s perspectives and to learn about this issue.

Post archive