The five day 2012 Biennial Gwich’in Gathering in Fort McPherson, Canada wraps up tomorrow. Sarah James, Board Chair of the Gwich’in Steering Committee, gave the following background on the event:
Since 1988 the people of the Gwich’in Nation have gathered in solidarity as a people to protect the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, the calving and nursery grounds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We will also be discussing a wide range of issues related to culture, the border, climate and international concerns. We hope to create some worthwhile solution.
Sarah James won the Goldman Prize in 2002 for her effort to preserve and protect Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil exploration and drilling and the effects of climate change. ANWR is home to more than 180 bird species, 36 species of freshwater fish, and mammals including polar bears, wolverines, moose and Dall sheep. The narrow coastal plain of the refuge also is the birthplace and nursing grounds of 130,000 Porcupine Caribou, on which the Gwich’in people subsist.
"We are caribou people," said James. "It's our clothing, our story, our song, our dance and our food that's who we are.”