Stories for the Arctic Refuge

29 Jul 2019 CONTAINERS
“This is my grocery store,” Raymond Tritt says, as he takes a break from field dressing a caribou to look at caribou passing nearby, outside Vashrąįį K'ǫǫ (Arctic Village), Alaska. For millennia, the Gwich’in (“people of the land”), have lived in the Arctic, taking care of the animals, land, and relying on the Porcupine Caribou herd for their subsistence way of life. To the Gwich’in, caribou is not just subsistence, it is who they are, they are caribou people. Today, the caribou and the Gwich’in way of life are under immediate threat from oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. | Photo credit: Keri Oberly

Featuring: Mason Cummings, Erika Larsen, Pat Kane, Peter Mather, Matt Nolan, Keri Oberly, Katie Orlinsky, Florian Schulz, Kiliii Yuyan, Nathaniel Wilder

Presented by

Native Movement, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society


Curated by

Keri Oberly, Jenny Irene Miller, Peter Mather











One of the last intact ecosystems, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to hundreds of species, and it is sacred to the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic, who rely on the health of this land. Today, the Arctic Refuge is facing a critical period. Not only are the effects of climate change tangible every day, the hunt for oil and gas continues to spread across the lands and waters on Alaska’s North Slope.

For millennia, the Gwich’in and Iñupiat people have lived in the Arctic, relying on the land and animals for their ways of life, and they continue to do so today. Since 1988, the Gwich’in have been fighting to protect the Porcupine caribou herd, and the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a sacred place they call lizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit (The Sacred Place Where Life Begins).

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the opening of the Arctic Refuge to industrial development. Aggressive steps have been taken to fast track the originally planned–six to seven-year leasing process–down to less than two years.

The threat to the Arctic Refuge, Gwich’in, and Iñupiat peoples is higher than ever, and so the work to protect all that is sacred for future generations, definitely is not over.

Thumbnail photo credit: Florian Schulz


Native Movement
Native Movement was formed in 2003 with a vision of grassroots-led movements and healthy Indigenous nations building strong, healing, and sustainable communities for all and Mother Earth. Our work focuses on ensuring Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the rights of Mother Earth, and the shaping of healthy and sustainable communities for all. We believe that the people nearest to the problems are also nearest to the solutions and that in order to make meaningful and lasting change it is critical to address root-causes and dismantle oppressive systemic power structures. Our work focuses on advocacy to secure the rights of Indigenous peoples, women, LGBTQ2+, and Mother Earth.

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Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.

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The Wilderness Society
Since 1935, our mission and passion has been to protect our nation’s shared wilderness, so that all Americans can enjoy the benefits they provide. We collaborate closely with local communities to safeguard wild places for future generations.

We fight for legal protections for our wildest places, and we champion and defend national policies that give protections for public lands, especially for our national forests, parks, refuges, and Bureau of Land Management properties.

We also ensure that the natural lands that belong to all Americans are taken care of, not given away or exploited for short-term gains by logging, mining, and oil and gas extraction. For more information, visit

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