Oil and Gas Development Threatens Way of Life
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 subsistence 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. The Bureau of Land Management held meetings about lease sales and seismic testing during the partial government shutdown to met their 2019 deadline. To the Gwich’in protecting their sacred land is a matter of human rights; the survival of the Gwich’in Nation is at stake. This story must be told now in hopes to prevent development that is detrimental to the Gwich'in, their future generations—and our natural environment. Often referred to as America’s Serengeti, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the last intact and untouched ecosystems in America.