The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a 19 million acre reserve in the northeastern corner of Alaska that’s renowned for its beauty and wildlife. ANWR also holds great cultural significance to the Native peoples of the region, including the Gwich’in Nation, who for generations have depended on the migratory caribou herd that births and calves its young in the coastal plain of the refuge. The Gwich’in have thus been some of the staunchest opponents of opening up ANWR to oil drilling. But in 2017, over the objections of many Indigenous leaders and environmental groups, Congress passed legislation authorizing drilling in ANWR. In January 2021, just days before Joe Biden was to take office, the Trump administration held an auction for the right to drill in the refuge. Interest however was tepid: the sale raised less than $15 million. No oil major participated in the auction. A view of the Brooks Range Mountains in the Arctic Refuge Wilderness. Photo credit: USFWS Of the reasons the oil auction was a bust, the campaign by the Gwich’in was arguably among the most compelling, helping broaden the issue into one of human rights, traditional Indigenous culture, and reverence for wildlife and the landscape. As the Executive Director of Gwich’in Steering Committee, a body established in 1988 in response to proposals to drill in ANWR, Bernadette Demientieff has had a leadership role in the campaign against drilling. Demientieff is of the Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in, a Gwich’in tribe that lives in and around Fort Yukon,…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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