Besides the importance of family, I treasure the natural resources from the Nushagak drainage of Bristol Bay. These natural resources: Salmon, caribou, moose, waterfowl and berries are found in my freezer. They are the same resources that I share with others in my community during baby showers, weddings, birthdays, potlucks or funerals. Even with the very hard work that is involved in harvesting these resources the activity itself brings my family together and binds us as family. This same activity is what many families in Bristol Bay do every year and have continued to do as Native people for generations. It is not only a way of life, but it defines us and our culture - a rich heritage of sharing and respect for what the Nushagak drainage has provided us.
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I want my great-great-great-grandchildren to share these same activities. They will be the ones asking the "why didn't they do more to stop the Pebble Mine?" And who will be around to answer them? Why should we give up or even risk what the Nushagak drainage has provided us in return for a huge hole in the ground and a tailings pond that will pollute the Nushagak drainage if it ever failed?
I've had the opportunity to bring many people together to discuss resource development and to discuss the Pebble Mine in an educational setting while working for the Bristol Bay campus of the University of Alaska. I must say, this experience opened my eyes to the lengths people will go to influence what happened at these meetings. From Pebble staff contacting the university administration to influence who should be or shouldn't on the agenda, to the governor contacting the president of the university regarding the same. I've seen Department of Natural Resources staff extremely "pissed" in an open educational forum when scientists present information about the consequences of mining. This same department staff person had no problem purposely "aiming and firing a round" at the supervisor of this scientist. Which "bulls-eye" was he trying to hit? He clearly came across as "pro-Pebble." It's when things get lop-sided that I become concerned for the resources my family depends on.
If anything, the present state administration - including DNR Commissioner Michael Menge - should live by his advice and not shoot at people who raise questions about the Pebble Mine. They are more likely to hurt someone with a "stray round."
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