Why We Should Protect ANWR

Uvlaallataq. Avunga Atiga Qagigluilaq. Anayyukkaka Warren and Bessi Sinnok. Kigigtami.

Translated into English: Good Morning. My name is Qagigluilaq. My given name is Esau Sinnok. My parents are Warren and Bessi Sinnok. I am from Shishmaref, Alaska.

I am Inupiaq Eskimo. My values and traits that I was taught and raised up on are similar to many different Alaska Native cultures. I was raised to always respect one another, especially our Elders because they are the reason why I am here, to always share with other people, to have hunter success, to always be kind, and to have respect to the land; that is one of the many reasons why we should do all of what we can do to protect ANWR.

A little history on ANWR: ANWR is an acronym for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is almost 20 million acres in the Alaska North Slope Region! Two villages that come to mind when ANWR is brought up is Arctic Village and Kaktovik. Arctic Village is primarily Gwich'in Athabascan and Kaktovik is primarily Inupiaq Eskimo.


I had the privilege to travel to Arctic Village the summer of 2016 with the rest of the Fresh Tracks group. You can learn more about Fresh Tracks here. When I first landed in Arctic Village, I was greeted by Charlie, who was someone who lived in Arctic Village for a long time. Charlie brought us to the community center, where we stayed for the duration of our trip. When I first drove into Arctic Village from the airport, I was stunned; I was in awe because of how beautiful Arctic Village is and how beautiful ANWR is. I never grew up with mountains, as I grew up on an island, and I was amazed at the sight of how beautiful the mountains were surrounding Arctic Village.

During our stay, we got to meet and know the people living in Arctic Village, which has a population of about 150 people. We listened, we heard, and lived with the wonderful and amazing people of Arctic Village during the week. And with that, we listened to their stories and heard them say why they have been fighting to protect ANWR, their home, for a long time. The Gwich'in people have been relying heavily on the caribou for time immemorial; like how my people of Shishmaref have been living off walrus, seal, and caribou, to name a few animals, for time immemorial, so I understood how important their caribou is to them. The Porcupine Caribou Herd which consists of about 150,000 caribou and calves, give birth in ANWR every year, and to me, that is something beautiful, that is a gift from God.

Just imagine for a second, a long pipeline, countless oil spills on traditional land, many acres of damaged land, and no more caribou. Can you imagine it for a second? That's going to happen if congress allows drilling in ANWR. I, Esau Sinnok of Shishmaref, Alaska, am fighting the fight and standing in solidarity with the Gwich'in People of Arctic Village and many other indigenous peoples that rely on the caribou and the land of ANWR.

1 comment

Adam Owen said...

The central Arctic caribou herd are all over Prudhoe Bay. They calve there and go as they please in and around all the facilities. What makes you think it would be any different in ANWR?

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