The Fight for Alaska’s Arctic Has Just Begun – A Proclamation

[From February 21 through February 23, 2018, nearly forty indigenous leaders, scientists, scholars, artists, conservationists and other impacted peoples and communities united at “the last oil” symposium ( at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque – to share knowledge and respond to the US federal Arctic energy policy that plans to open up biological nurseries and feeding grounds of global significance to oil and gas development. This policy also violates indigenous human rights and endangers food security of the indigenous communities. The federal government, aided by the Alaska Congressional delegation and the State of Alaska, is pursuing a misguided and catastrophic energy policy in the midst of extreme Arctic climate change and the global mass species die-off and extinction.]

We, the participants, join together in a common cause to demand protections and to safeguard Alaska’s Arctic and its rich diversity of life, cultures, and landscapes for future generations;

We embrace our collective responsibility to address climate change and its impacts on the Arctic and around the world. We commit to the Paris Climate Agreement that strives to reduce global carbon pollution and demonstrates what is possible when the world is united with a shared vision;

We demand that the Arctic be the first place to begin the managed decline of fossil fuels extraction. Energy security should not be dependent on a finite resource that is so harmful to our health, safety and now, all life on Earth. We commit to a just transition toward a clean energy economy;

We do not accept the 2017 Tax Bill provision, or any administrative decision, that would industrialize the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, special areas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. We encourage all Americans to take individual and collective action;

We stand in solidarity with the First Peoples of Arctic Alaska and adjacent Canada and throughout the world, who are resisting the destruction of their homeland and ways of life – from Standing Rock, to Bears Ears, to Greater Chaco Region, to “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins” in the Arctic Refuge, to the Beaufort and the Chukchi seas;

We reject the unprecedented legislation that claims oil and gas exploration and development of the coastal plain is a valid purpose for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Such industrial purposes are a desecration of both Indigenous lands and the cherished National Wildlife Refuge System;

We celebrate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a biological nursery of global significance, a place where the more than 200,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd along with many species of birds and other wildlife migrate every year to have their young. As scientists have warned about the sixth mass extinction, birthing grounds like the Arctic Refuge are more critical now than ever before.

We demand that state and federal governments no longer ignore the real costs and devastation of local communities that are impacted and whose lands are eroding because of climate change;

We pledge to engage with our elders to build on the merits of their knowledge and wisdom to mentor young people and, to build relationships across communities;

We act out of love, and scientific and traditional ecological knowledge, to preserve our biological nurseries, our traditional ways of life, and the well-being of current and future generations.

The fight has just begun. Join us.

Bernadette Demientieff (Gwich’in), Executive Director, Gwich’in Steering Committee

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak (Iñupiaq), Environmental justice and Indigenous rights activist

Sarah James (Gwich’in), Environmental justice and Indigenous rights activist

Robert Thompson (Iñupiaq), Environmental justice and Indigenous rights activist

David Solomon (Gwich’in), Environmental justice and Indigenous rights activist

Maria Williams, Associate Professor, Alaska Native Studies, University of Alaska-Anchorage

Subhankar Banerjee, Professor, Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico

Debbie S. Miller, Alaska Author and conservationist

Arif Khan, Director, UNM Art Museum

Traci Quinn, Curator of Education and Public Programs, University of New Mexico Art Museum

Finis Dunaway, Professor, History, Trent University

Jeff Fair, Biologist and author, Alaska

Vicki Clark, Executive Director, Trustees for Alaska

Nicole Whittington-Evans, Alaska Regional Director, The Wilderness Society

Monica Scherer, Director of Outreach, Alaska Wilderness League

Pamela A. Miller, Conservationist and former biologist, Fairbanks, Alaska

Richard Steiner, Marine scientist and former professor, University of Alaska

Ken Whitten, Retired caribou biologist, Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Red Nation

Petuuche Gilbert (Acoma), President, Indigenous World Association

Indigenous World Association

Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment

Joseph Cook, Professor, Biology, University of New Mexico

Samuel Truett, Associate Professor of History, University of New Mexico

Mary Tsiongas, Professor of Art and Associate Dean of College of Fine Arts, University of New Mexico

David Gutzler, Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico

Sofia Martinez, Co-founder, Los Jardines Institute

Helen Cherullo, Executive Director, Braided River

Marek Ranis, Associate Professor of Art & Art History, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

Philip Wight, PhD Candidate in History, Brandeis University

Nicholas Jacobsen, MFA Candidate in Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico

Laura Carlson, Artist and scholar, Research Associate, University of New Mexico

Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice

Food and Water Watch

Mark Allison, Executive Director, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance

Lauren Kayle Auer, Co-President of UNM Wilderness Alliance

Sandra Yellowhorse (Diné), MA Candidate in American Studies, University of New Mexico

Elspeth Iralu, PhD Candidate in American Studies, University of New Mexico

Alex Lubin, Professor of American Studies and Associate Provost, University of New Mexico

Alyosha Goldstein, Associate Professor, American Studies, University of New Mexico

Tema Milstein, Associate Professor of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of New Mexico

Les Field, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico

Axel Christopher Gonzalez, PhD Candidate in American Studies, University of New Mexico

Joe Gallegos, MA Candidate in American Studies, University of New Mexico

Jennifer Lee Tucker, Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning, University of New Mexico

T.J. Demos, Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, Director, Center for Creative Ecologies, University of California-Santa Cruz

Bill Gilbert, Emeritus Professor, Art & Ecology, Founder, Land Arts of the American West, University of New Mexico

William Pockman, Professor and Chair, Biology, University of New Mexico

Bobbe Besold, Artist, Rivers Run Through Us

Ashley Kranjac, Assistant Professor, Chapman University

Dinko Kranjac, Associate Faculty, Chapman University

Amy Catherine Hulshoff, PhD Candidate in Art History, University of New Mexico

Elizabeth A. Shores, Artist, Philadelphia

Anissa Duwaik, Human, Indigenous and Planetary Rights Activist

Noel Mollinedo, MA Candidate in Art History, University of New Mexico