"Politicians speak about the Arctic and Alaska in the abstract. Some venture to say that it is a place devoid of life. I know this not to be so. In fact, for thousands of years, the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
has been the "sacred place where life begins" for my people. We depend on the Porcupine Caribou Herd for food, clothing and tools -- we also look to them as a source of respect and spiritual guidance. The caribou depend on the Coastal Plain as the place where they birth and nurse their young.
Each spring, we watch first the bulls and yearlings, and later the pregnant cows head out on their northern migration to the Coastal Plain. To us, the true picture of the Arctic Refuge is one where caribou thunder across the tundra, snowy owls drift across the blue sky, and the howls of wolves chillingly echo the dancing of the aurora borealis. To us, this place -- that politicians speak of only in its potential to feed our national addiction to oil -- is irreplaceable.
Thousands of miles away from here, these politicians talk about handing over our sacred land to Big Oil. Despite the fact that the federal government's own Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported that the amount of oil thought to be found in the Arctic Refuge would lower gas prices by only a few pennies per gallon in 10 years, the politicians continue to push for drilling. In fact, a group of them recently paid a visit to the North Slope of Alaska to "gather facts" on the Arctic Refuge -- and they never even responded to an invitation to sit down and talk with my people. In fact, they never set foot in the Arctic Refuge. Yet they still say that there is no life there worth preserving. They seem to be lieve that prolonging our national addiction is worth more than the Gwich'in
way of life that has sur vived for 20,000 years."
Get the Story:
Peter Solomon: Pain in the Plains
(The Trenton Times 8/8)