Friday, May 26, 2017

Gwich'in Urge Support in Southwest to Save Homeland

Gwich'in defending Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit sacred place where life begins

     
Gwich'in Southwest Tour
Censored News

FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- Gwich'in are in the Southwest this week, urging opposition to a bill that would authorize oil and gas drilling in their homeland, including parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Two women from the Gwich'in Tribe are presenting their story and a showing of a short film about their battle to save their ancestral lands and the caribou herd that has sustained them. Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, said the herd is a central part of their heritage – which is why her tribe has taken a firm stand against development for decades.
“Just like the Native Americans with the buffalo, they have that spiritual and cultural connection, that's that same connection that we have to the Porcupine caribou herd,” Demientieff said. "The Gwich'in Nation used to migrate with the caribou herd for over 20,000 years. What befalls the caribou, befalls the Gwich'in," Demientieff said.

“The very existence and identity of the Gwich'in is under threat. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a sacred place. We want to continue to live our cultural and traditional life with the Porcupine Caribou Herd.""For decades, the Gwich’in Nation has defeated harmful proposals in Congress that would threaten the Coastal Plain; the birthplace to the Porcupine caribou herd and 190 other species, including migratory birds. This area is known to us as ‘Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit’ – the sacred place where life begins," Demientieff said.
"For us, protecting this place is a matter of physical, spiritual and cultural survival. It is our basic human right to continue to feed our families and practice our traditional way of life. Development in the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain, like what is proposed in the President’s budget, would be a human rights violation. Our identity is not negotiable.”
Supporters of the tribe want to block oil and gas drilling by giving wilderness protection to 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They have introduced House Resolution 1889, the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act. 
But Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski has sponsored Senate Bill 49, to permit drilling on 2,000 acres of the refuge.
And, just this week President Trump introduced his budget which includes drilling in the Arctic Refuge to raise budget revenues. “For us, protecting this place is a matter of physical, spiritual and cultural survival,” said Demientieff. “It is our basic human right to continue to feed our families and practice our traditional way of life. Development in the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain, like what is proposed in the President’s budget, would be a human rights violation. Our identity is not negotiable.”
Fawn Douglas, a member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, said the Gwich’in Tribe's struggle is very similar to the Southwestern fights to protect natural treasures in their hometowns.
"They're trying to protect their homelands from any development,” Douglas said. “And to think about any part of that being desecrated or ruined by any mining or development is just absurd. And they're going through the same battle, the same fight."
The Gwich'in Tribe says the caribou herd's migration and calving areas would be disturbed if Congress approved drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They're hoping that attendees will write their representatives to urge protections for the area.
Photos: Gwich'in visit Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada. Photos by Bernadette Demientieff.


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The Gwich'in Tour received a warm welcome as they began their tour, from O'odham in Tucson, then traveled to Las Vegas, where they received another warm welcome from Las Vegas Paiute and Moapa Paiute, and then on to Reno. Now, please welcome them to Salt Lake and Moab in Utah, and Grand Junction, Alamosa and Boulder in Colorado. -- Censored News
Upcoming in May and June: Utah and Colorado Schedule
MAY 27, 2017
7pm – 8:30pm
Patagonia
2292 S Highland Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
MAY 28, 2017
6:30pm – 8pm
Moab Arts and Rec Center,
Stage Room111 E 100 N,
Moab, UT 84532
MAY 30, 2017
6pm – 7:30pm
Mesa County Public Library
443 N 6th St
Grand Junction, CO 81501
MAY 31, 2017
7pm – 8:30pm
Adam State University
Student Union Building,
Carson Auditorium
208 Edgemont Blvd
Alamosa, CO 81102
JUNE 1, 2017
7pm – 8:30pm
Patagonia
1212 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302

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