Stealing Our Land & Our Voice: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
For more than 40 years, the oil and gas industry has tried to gain access to the resources under the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A pristine landscape, we the citizens have fought to keep the Refuge wild. But now, the Trump Administration and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski are making progress towards delivering the refuge to their friends in the oil and gas industry.
Take action now to stop a blatant land grab and protect this national treasure and sacred resource of the Gwich’in people.
With the help of Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the oil and gas industry inserted a provision into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 allowing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be opened to oil and gas development. Oil and gas asked, Senator Murkowski provided. And now, the current administration is bending over backwards to get oil and gas leases in-hand before the next presidential election. Processes that usually take years—to ensure that facts are known and everyone affected by the proposed action has a chance to be heard—are being pushed through in mere months.
The Arctic Refuge is a breathtaking, untouched landscape—one of very few remaining in the world. The Refuge is part of the ancestral range of the Gwitch’in people and home to 37 species of land mammals, 8 marine mammals, 42 fish species, and more than 200 migratory bird species. It is also the calving grounds for the Porcupine Caribou herd. The Gwich’in people enjoy a close and lasting relationship with the caribou, which are a main source of subsistence as well as a spiritual and cultural treasure for local communities. The Gwich’in have maintained their culture, identity, and integrity as traditional indigenous inhabitants of the area with sacred relationships to the land and caribou. They are a people who have yet to be corrupted and colonized, and their culture relies upon and honors the caribou and the ancestral homelands that have provided for them for thousands of years. For them, the Refuge’s Coastal Plain is Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”
NARF represents the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government, Venetie Village Council, and Artic Village Council, three federally recognized Gwich’in tribes working tirelessly to protect their way of life and oppose oil and gas development in the Refuge.
In December, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a slap-dash Environmental Impact Statement knowingly based on inaccurate, outdated, and incomplete information. With the reopening of the federal government, they scheduled all of the required public hearings (seven in Alaska and one in DC) to happen between February 5 and February 13!
And, these “public hearings” will be highly unusual. They will consist of a presentation by the BLM, followed by a court reporter meeting privately with attendees to record their comments. This uncommon procedure diminishes the force of testimony and deflates public discourse. It is obvious that the regulators don’t want to hear from the people, they want this process done as quickly and quietly as possible. This is clearly a tactic to suppress concerned voices, including those of the Gwich’in people.
However, thanks to generous donors, eight tribal representatives were able to testify at the hearing in DC. They were able to make their voices heard.
We must hold the government accountable. Don’t let the BLM take away people’s voices. Don’t let one senator, on behalf of one industry, undo the will of the people! Become an ANWR Ally and donate now. Invest in the protection of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.