Friday, October 21, 2005

Canadian and Native American Indian Tribe Faces Catastrophe

A catastrophe is facing the Gwitchin Native American and Canadian Indian tribe located in Alaska and the Canadian territory of Yukon. The Porcupine caribou herd, which has been their main food source since the last Ice Age, is dwindling and nobody knows exactly why. The U.S. government wants to drill for oil in the caribous' calving grounds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Inupiats or Eskimos of Alaska generally support drilling in ANWR for the jobs and revenues it will bring to the north. But further south in the Canadian Yukon, the Gwitchin Indian tribe views the new oil rigs negatively. For the 7,000 Gwitchin or "Caribou People" whose population is divided between Canada in the Yukon territory and Alaska, the stakes are quite high. The Gwitchin tribe fears that oil rigs in the refuge will bring the slow death of the caribou and the tribe's 13,000 year old subsistence culture, the last of its kind in North America. Sometime later this month, U.S. Congress is set to decide whether to allow oil exploration to proceed in ANWR, the country's premier wildlife refuge. There are calls to help protect the Arctic Refuge.

To see artwork from the Arctic as well as the Northwest, see Free Spirit Gallery.

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