Protect a way of life


Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2000

A couple of weeks ago I went to a slide show presentation about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The images, words and music were quite powerful. But are they powerful enough to convince a misinformed public that ANWR is not a national interest? At a time when oil and gas prices are climbing, it seems strange to me that Alaska's second highest export behind fish is oil. It is obvious by this that ANWR is not critical to national interests, but is critical to political and corporate interests. Far and above this, however, ANWR is critical to humanity's interests.

Ever since Columbus and Cortez arrived in this "New World," they and their ancestors have destroyed every aboriginal culture they came into contact with, all under the mask of progress and greed. Yet there remain a people who live in and use the land as their ancestors before them have for years. Thousands of years. Long before manifest destiny became a way of political genocide. They live differently than we simply because they choose to do so, in spite of our "advanced" civilization. They are not caught in the corporate web unable to live as individuals. They do not need our help to survive. They need us to let them be as they always have been. Problem is they are all that stands in the way of BP execs and a 20,000-square-foot chalet in Aspen or Jackson Hole.

The potential for disrupting the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd is extremely high. The threat to a way of life native to North America is real and uncorrectable. We can blame wolves for a dwindling caribou herd all we want, but the fact remains wolves, caribou and Natives have survived in a balance for eons.

What is said if we disrupt this culturally and environmentally sensitive area is, these people do not count, that their way of life is obsolete and holds no merit. So we drill, and after 200 days when the supply is drained, and yet another people are broken and erased, what then? If their way of life amounts to nothing more than broken promises, how does this reflect on us as a people, where have we progressed in the last 500 years? What have we learned from history? Who will be the next cultural speed bump on the corporate path?

Let's leave this place be, and bury manifest destiny as a politically useless alternative to aboriginal rights. I support monument status for ANWR. Not every one will like this, but your grandchildren will.

Kenn Magowan


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