Gwich'in Nation Calls for Urgent Action on Arctic Refuge

Publisher Name: 
Gwich'in Nation

Please Note: This action has been discontinued.

Thank you for your support!

The fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the fate of the
Gwich'in Nation. If the Arctic Refuge is sacrificed to meet the high energy
consumption needs of the US, the Gwich'in will not be able to continue our
ancestral way of life and pass it on to our future generations as we have
since time immemorial.

The Gwich'in need your help now to defend this sacred place from the
desperate attempts of industry and the White house to violate the
birthplace and nursery of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, the coastal plain of
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. On August 1st, 2001, despite public
opposition, the US House of Representatives passed the "Energy Security
Act" which includes authorization for drilling in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge.

This is an alarming impediment for protecting the birthplace and nursery
of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, one of the few remaining untouched
ecosystems in North America. With Presidential approval a foregone
conclusion, it is absolutely necessary that the senate block this short
sighted and destructive bill.

Before being heard on the Senate floor, the "Energy Security Act" must
pass through the Senate Energy and Resources Committee. This is an
important opportunity for us to strip the Arctic Drilling Provision from
the bill before it reaches the full Senate.

The Arctic Refuge is facing its greatest threat ever, with many opponents
stacked up against it: the White House, the oil industry, the Teamsters,
and the AK delegation. Even our strongest allies in the Senate are under
enormous pressure to change their position.

We need all of our supporters to take action now in opposition to this
threat. It is crucial that we create broad resistance to drilling on the
coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge-the birthplace and nursery of the
Porcupine Caribou Herd. The Gwich'in people consider this area sacred, in
our language we call it Vadzaih googii vi dehk'it gwanlii which translates to "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins".

Call or Write your Senators, tell all of our relations to make this call
or write this letter today. We need the voice of all our supporters to
defeat this attack on the inherent fundamental human rights of the Gwich'in
Nation. Our traditional culture and way of life which is interconnected
with the Porcupine Caribou Herd to meet all our essential needs such as
food, clothing, tools, spirituality and social structure is at stake. Speak
out now!

What You Can Do

Congress will be in recess until September 4th. During the month of
August, your Senators will be back in your home state, visiting their
regional offices. This is an excellent opportunity to call, fax, and write --
or better yet, meet with -- your Senators and voice opposition to drilling in
the Arctic Refuge. This is especially important if your Senator is a member
of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee (Some members listed below)

If your Senator is not listed below, you can obtain their contact
information online by going to Your local phone book will have contact information for their local offices. Or you can call the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask
for the local office number.

Alaskan supporters-we need your help as well, many Senators in the US only
hear from the extremely pro-drilling Alaska delegation. These Senators need
to understand that the Alaska delegation does not speak for you. Please
call members of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee listed below, let
them know we want this area protected. Contact your relations in the lower
48 and ask them to call their Senators as well.

Talking Points

The health and productivity of the Porcupine Caribou Herd is vital to
the cultural survival of the Gwich'in. America has seen the devastation
when the buffalo were nearly wiped out. We cannot allow another atrocity to
occur in our generation, when we do have other options.

The Porcupine Caribou Herd numbers 129,000 strong. The coastal plain of
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the core birthplace and nursery. The
Gwich'in consider this area sacred, in their language they call it "
Vadzaih googii vi dehk'it gwanlii" which translates to The Sacred Place
Where Life Begins. Certain areas must remain sacred, left intact and
undisturbed. Especially now as we see so much natural lands being forever
destroyed for economic gain and short term prosperity.

This issue is about the basic inherent fundamental human rights of the
Gwich'in to continue to live their ancestral way of life. We must ensure
that all people are able to enjoy fundamental human rights. These rights
are affirmed by civilized nations in the International Covenants on Human
Rights. Article 1 of both the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social And Cultural
Rights read in part: "In no case may a people be deprived of their own means of subsistence

Regardless of how much oil may be in the refuge, it is morally wrong to
expect the Gwich'in to sacrifice their way of life to meet this country's
energy needs. What will be lost and what is at stake is too high a price to

Ninety-five percent of the Arctic coast is open to oil development; the
Arctic Refuge coastal plain is the last five- percent. The coastal plain
should be protected for all Americans to enjoy in perpetuity. The oil
companies have enough land to develop.

Prudhoe Bay is estimated to contain 40 more years of oil for this
nation's energy needs, that's plenty of time for the United States to
develop alternative energy sources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels
which are very harmful to the natural environment and a leading contributor
to global warming, which we observe harmful impacts from already.

Oil development in the Arctic Refuge will not solve the energy needs of
this nation, even if the US developed all our domestic sources of oil we
would still be reliant on foreign oil because the US has such a high rate
of consumption. A wiser energy solution must be delineated, not a
short-term solution to a long-term problem.

The United States has a sad history of wreckage and destruction with
indigenous peoples of North America. The US government should not repeat
mistakes from the past and continue to destroy indigenous cultures as they
would if they develop the Arctic Refuge.

The unprotected area of the Arctic Refuge coastal plain provides vital
habitat for nearly 200 species of animals, including the 129,000 member
Porcupine Caribou herd as well as polar bears, grizzlies, wolves and
millions of migratory birds. Allowing this essential, eternal wilderness to
be exchanged for a short-term supply of oil is unacceptable.

Drilling in the Refuge will have no discernable short-term or long-term
impact on the price of fuel and will not decrease our dependence on foreign
oil. The amount of oil under the Arctic Refuge would never satisfy more
than 2 percent of our nation's oil demands at any given time. In fact, if
the Refuge were America's only source of oil, the amount of recoverable oil
would sustain America's consumption for less than 6 months. The wilderness
and cultural values of the Arctic Refuge coastal plain are too precious to
give away as a temporary bandage for our need for oil.

America does need a sound national energy policy, but we simply can't
drill our way to lower prices or energy independence. Our energy policy
should emphasize decreasing the demand rather than increasing the supply of
fossil fuels. There are reliable and sensible means of achieving these ends
- such as energy conservation, alternative energies and improved energy
efficiency - which can reduce our dependence on oil without sacrificing
Indigenous cultures and the a fragile ecosystem.

Oil development cannot be done in an "environmentally sensitive" manner.
Since 1996, the Prudhoe Bay oil fields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have
caused an average of 427 spills annually on the North Slope - most commonly
spills of diesel and crude oil. Whether an accident or faulty maintenance,
the Arctic Refuge coastal plain is too precious to risk from spills such as

Target Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Tel: 202-224-6361

Fax: 202-224-2126

Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)

Tel: 202-224-5852


Evan Bayh (D-IN)

Tel: 202-224-5623

Fax: 202-228-1377

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Tel: 202-224-5521

Fax: 202-224-2852

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Tel: 202-224-3441

Fax: 202-228-0514

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

Tel: 202-224-2551

Fax: 202-224-1193

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Tel: 202-224-3841

Fax: 202-228-3954

Bob Graham (D-FL)

Tel: 202-224-3041

Fax: 202-224-2237

Tim Johnson (D-SD)

Tel: 202-224-5842

Fax: 202-228-5765

Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

Tel: 202-224-4521

Fax: 202-224-2207

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Tel: 202-224-5824

Fax: 202-224-9735

Don Nickles (R-OK)

Tel: 202-224-5754

Fax: 202-224-6008

Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Tel: 202-224-6542

Fax: 202-228-3027

Gordon Smith (R-OR)

Tel: 202-224-3753

Fax: 202-228-3997

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Tel: 202-224-5244

Fax: 202-228-2717

No email address available

Conrad Burns (R-MT)

Tel: 202-224-2644

Fax: 202-224-8594


1. Pass the word along - contact your friends, relatives and neighbors.
Urge them to add their voice in opposition to oil drilling in the Arctic

2. Use the media - you can educate your community and highlight the
important role your member of Congress plays by writing and placing a
letter to the editor of your local papers. You can use the talking points
to help create your letter. The site tell
you where to e-mail your letter to the editor.

3. Start a petition/set up a signing table - Address the petition to the
Senators in your state asking them to protect the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge from drilling. Be sure to have each signer include their full
printed name and address. (This is very important to establish the validity
of the signatures.) Then set up a signing table at your local college campus, library, grocery store, or anywhere else that attracts a lot of people. You can also have a phone available and ask people to call their Senators immediately.

AMP Section Name:CorpWatch