For Gwich’in people, Arctic drilling poses a threat to caribou & culture
December 29, 2018 9:45 AM   Subscribe

The Trump administration, eager to explore Alaska’s oil reserves, is planning seismic tests on the calving grounds of animals Indigenous people depend on economically and spiritually. Here’s a closer look at the ones with the most to lose.

A Gwich’in story of creation says that man and caribou were created with a piece of the other’s heart in his own. Accordingly, the fate of the animal and the people are said to be intertwined.

The Gwich’in people, 7000 of whom live in the western part of the North America near the Arctic Circle, on the coast of the Beaufort Sea, have for thousands of years been dependent on the caribou; the animal has, for them, both spiritual and physical significance.

posted by poffin boffin (3 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
They really aren’t going to stop shitting on things until the Apocalypse, are they?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:48 PM on December 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

thanks for posting this, poffin.
posted by mollymillions at 2:11 PM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mr. Kyikavichik recalls the day Donald Trump was elected as a bad dream – an overwhelming sense of disbelief, as if it wasn’t really happening.

We are a nation of many peoples united in our common humanity.

In all seriousness, even without the drilling for oil, there are bound to be changes in their traditional lifestyle as climate change alters their ecology. We all should be invested in saving the caribou not just to preserve the Gwich’in lifestyle, but because

“The caribou are a renewable source of energy,” Vuntut Gwitchin Government councillor Dana Tizya-Tramm from Old Crow, Yukon, said to the gathering. “They’ve been around for two million years, and they will be around for another two if you leave them alone.”

For the Gwich’in, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to resource exploration is more than just an environmental issue. In an area of the country where supermarket food is notoriously expensive, the caribou are a key source of food security. ”When my people have to eat from microwaves and boxes,” Mr. Tizya-Tramm continued, “then we will cost you in doctors, in medical expenses. We will cost you more than it’s worth for the 10 to 12 years of oil you can get from the Arctic Refuge.”

The faster we kill off oil dependency, the less we starve and get sick.
posted by saysthis at 10:04 PM on December 29, 2018

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