Today, Gwich’in leaders from across the United States and Canada are joined by faith leaders, scientists and veterans to stand together before Congress and speak on behalf of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its coastal plain, and to support passage of The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act.
You can watch their testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee below.
- Ms. Bernadette Demientieff, Executive Director, Gwich’in Steering Committee
- Chief Galen Gilbert, Arctic Village Council
- Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Yukon, Canada
- Chief/Chairman Victor Joseph, Tanana Chiefs Conference
- Mr. Sam Alexander, Gwich’in Leader, Gwich’in Steering Committee
- Right Reverend Mark Lattime, Bishop of Alaska, The Episcopal Church
- Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, Chief Scientist, Polar Bears International
- Mr. Chad Brown, Founder and President, Soul River, Inc.
The fight to protect this sacred place has waged for decades. In 1977, more than 40 years ago, Margaret Murie also stood before Congress on behalf of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, testifying to why we must defend our last wild places.
This is her testimony:
The Arctic Refuge has long sustained the Gwich’in people, who refer to the coastal plain as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins” because of its role as the primary calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. One of the largest intact ecosystems in the world, the Arctic Refuge is a place of breathtaking natural beauty and untouched, rugged wilderness. Its remarkable glaciated peaks, northern forests and fragile tundra provide vital habitat for denning polar bears, migrating caribou, wolves, muskoxen and nesting area for more than 200 migratory and resident bird species.
Oil industry allies in Congress used tax reconciliation legislation – the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 – to circumvent normal legislative channels because passing an Arctic Refuge drilling bill on its own would have been impossible. Drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge remains deeply unpopular – more than two-thirds of people in this country oppose it. The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act restores protections for the Arctic Refuge that have been in place for decades.