This week, British Petroleum announced that it was selling all Alaska assets, signaling yet again that drilling in the sacred homelands of the Gwich’in Nation is bad business. British Petroleum’s announcement was made on the heels of Arctic Refuge drilling advocate Joe Balash’s departure from the Department of the Interior, and a class action lawsuit and SEC investigation of the seismic exploration company SAExploration.
Leaders from the Gwich’in Steering Committee have been continually calling on companies, financiers, and the Trump Administration to respect the rights of the Gwich’in by not pursuing drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge. Earlier this year, leaders of the Gwich’in Nation called out executives at British Petroleum America’s Headquarters in Denver, Colorado and met with senior executives from British Petroleum at their Annual General Meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Gwich’in Steering Committee sees this announcement as further evidence that major business interests see the writing on the wall: the sacred calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd and the Gwich’in Nation are no place to drill.
This sacred landscape is key to the food security and way of life of our people, and was protected for generations until a provision in the 2017 tax bill opened it for oil and gas leasing - an action which could be undone by a future Administration.
“We’re appreciative British Petroleum heard our demands and recognized that they’d have to answer to the Gwich’in and the millions of Americans who stand with us if they attempted to destroy the Arctic Refuge,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff. “The coastal plain is no place for drilling, and we will continue to send this message to Hilcorp and the rest of the oil industry until they pledge to leave our sacred lands intact.”
For more information on how you can support the Gwich'in visit http://ourarcticrefuge.org/.
Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Environmental Network’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities. Learn more here: ienearth.org.