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Tribal Nations Protest Republican Plan To Drill In Arctic Refuge
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7 Dec 2017 01:36 AM EST

The Arctic coastal plain of northeastern Alaska serves as a summer safe haven for the porcupine caribou herd. It is here that cows come to give birth, and it is where the herd forages and escapes predators. For thousands of years, the Gwich’in (GWITCH-in) people, an indigenous tribe of northern Alaska and Canada, have relied on the caribou as a primary food source. But even when Gwich’in were facing starvation, they kept out of the herd’s calving grounds. The Gwich’in call the coastal plain "the sacred place where life begins.” And today they are fighting — once again — to keep oil and gas development out of this fragile landscape. Last week, the Senate passed a tax overhaul bill that includes a provision that would require Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to approve at least two lease sales for drilling in the refuge’s coastal plain. The issue of drilling in this part of refuge, also known as the 1002 Area, has been the subject of a decades-long battle between energy producers and conservationists. Allowing drilling could forever destroy Alaska natives’ subsistence lifestyle.

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