For 1000’s of years, the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge has sustained life for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and different family members on and off the land, that maintain the meals safety and methods of lifetime of the Iñupiat and Gwich’in folks in addition to different Alaska Native Tribes. Any disruption of this space would pose an existential menace to not simply meals safety, however our identification as Iñupiat and Gwich’in Folks. Drilling within the Arctic Refuge would additionally pose an elevated public well being menace to communities on Alaska’s North Slope that already expertise extreme well being disparities straight tied to the oil manufacturing surrounding their neighborhood.
Drilling within the Arctic Refuge violates Indigenous rights, and is a menace to the underside line of any bank that funds this damaging exercise. Because the world more and more acknowledges the pressing want to maneuver away from polluting fossil fuels, investments in costly new drilling initiatives are rising riskier. By ruling out help for Arctic drilling, banks have acknowledged that investing in a undertaking that might threaten human rights and worsen the local weather disaster is a threat that’s not worth taking.
Professional-drilling politicians which have lengthy sought to dump the coastal plain for drilling have predictably pushed again on this rising development, even going as far as to level to help from companies like Arctic Slope Regional Company to say that Alaska Native folks help drilling, or that the Gwich’in are alone of their opposition to drilling whereas the Iñupiat folks or members of different Tribes help it. We just lately had the chance to fulfill with Bank of America executives to appropriate the report and clarify that these claims couldn’t be farther from the reality.
We allow them to know that each Gwich’in and Iñupiat Peoples have made official resolutions to guard the Arctic Refuge, and that Alaska Native companies are simply that: companies. They don’t seem to be accountable to Tribal members, and they don’t communicate for us. Neither does Alaska’s Congressional delegation, whose push for drilling and disingenuous claims that the destruction of the Arctic Refuge would assist Native communities have made it clear that they care extra about company income than our well being or human rights.
We all know that we will’t depend on these politicians to do the precise factor to defend our land and our communities, and the Trump administration is pushing forward to attempt to dump the coastal plain for drilling by the tip of the yr. That’s why it’s extra necessary than ever that monetary establishments like Bank of America acknowledge the position they play in serving to destroy this sacred place or preserving it intact.
As a rising variety of main banks are making the precise resolution, all eyes are on Bank of America to see whether or not they’ll comply with their friends or proceed to face out of their disregard for the rights of Alaska’s Indigenous folks. We stand collectively, the Iñupiat and the Gwich’in, in calling on Bank of America to hearken to Indigenous folks, defend our homelands, and keep out of the Arctic Refuge.