The Trump administration has advanced the process of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to lease sales. The Department of Interior released its "Record of Decision" on August 17, 2020 taking the most aggressive and destructive drilling alternative possible. It paves the way for lease sales as early as December. During an oil glut, increasing threats from climate change, and a world-wide pandemic, the administration will attempt to lease the entire Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge-- more than 1.5 million acres-- to the oil industry. Representing the last 5% of America’s Arctic Coastal Plain where the law has barred oil and gas activity, this would forever transform these wild lands into a toxic industrial drilling complex. The Gwich’in people who depend on these lands call it “the sacred place where life begins.”
This move threatens the food security, and spiritual and cultural foundation of the Indiginous Gwich'in Nation, in addition to threats to endangered polar bears, the Porcupine Caribou herd, and birds that migrate to these lands from six continents and all 50 states. This is one of the most high-profile battles in America today at the intersection of the environment and social justice.
This video includes five members of the Gwich’in community-- raising their voices at the 2016 Gwich’in Gathering in Arctic Village, Alaska-- Neets’aii Gwich’in Tribal Land. Thanks to Arctic Village Council, Venetie Tribal Council and Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government for permission for National Geographic photographer Florian Schulz to record these testimonies.
Dr. Rev. Trimble Gilbert
Narrator: Princess Daazhraii Johnson
|EarthSayers||Sarah James; Nani’eeth Peter|
|Organizations||Arctic Village Council; Gwich’in community|
|EarthSayers Rating||Highly recommended|
|Member of Special Collection||Yes! Magazine|
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