People of the Caribou
For millennia, the Gwich'in have lived in the Arctic, taking care of the land, animals, and relying on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for their way of life. For the Gwich’in the only adequate food is food that comes from the land - caribou, moose, fish, and berries -making up 80% of their diet. They treat the animals with reverence because, without them, they would not survive. Since 1988, the Gwich'in have been fighting to protect the caribou and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from industrial development, a sacred place they call “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit” (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins). This area is currently under immediate threat. On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development into the tax bill. Aggressive steps have since been taken to fast-track development. The permitting process has been accelerated from two or three years down to one. To the Gwich’in protecting this sacred land is a matter of human rights; the survival of the Gwich’in Nation is at stake.
I acknowledge these photographs were made on the unceded lands of the Neets'aii (Arctic Village), Gwichyaa (Fort Yukon), Tetlit (Fort McPherson), and Han (Eagle Village) Gwich’in of what is now called Alaska and Canada.