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ANCHORAGE – Protection of the Porcupine Caribou Herd gained additional support from Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) during its Biennial Summit by delegates of the 73 Alaska Tribes and Canadian First Nations that comprise of the council. The council represents indigenous peoples across the Yukon Basin, an area twice the size of the state of California. The 2016 Resolution to Protect the Birthplace and Nursery Grounds of the Porcupine Caribou Herd was unanimously passed by the Gwich’in people in July of 2016 and again by delegates from all regions of the watershed in July of 2017.
The YRITWC was created by the Indigenous people of the watershed to address environmental issues in the Yukon River and its tributaries, such as the Porcupine and T’ee Drin Jik (Chandalar) Rivers. YRITWC supports all aspects of the subsistence lifestyle and actively opposes threats.
“In this political climate, it is vital that we work together to protect indigenous ways of life and cultures that have been in place for millennia,” said YRITWC Alaska Executive Director, Kelly Donnelly. “The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council considers the Porcupine Caribou herd essential and are pleased to join the Gwich’in Steering Committee in the fight to protect them.”
For thousands of years, the Gwich’in people of Northeast Alaska and Northwest Canada rely on the Porcupine Caribou herd for food, shelter, clothing, and life itself. Today, the Gwich’in way of life and the future existence of their people is in jeopardy due to the threat faced to the Porcupine (River) Caribou Herd.
“This is amazing news, especially now that our homelands are under threat. Unity amongst the indigenous tribes are very important right now. We must stand together to prevent anymore destruction to our land, water and animals,” said GSC Executive Director, Bernadette Demientieff. “This is awesome to know that our people are standing with us to protect the Porcupine Caribou Herd.”
About YRITWC: Based in Anchorage, AK, YRITWC is an international non-profit dedicated to the ingoing environmental health of the Yukon River Basin and its people. Formed in 1997 by concerned tribal leaders of Alaska and the Yukon Territory, the YRITWC serves 73 Tribes and First Nations in Alaska and Canada focusing on water quality, contaminated sites, and solid waste management. Learn more at www.yritwc.org
About GSC: The Gwich’in Steering Committee (GSC) was formed by the Elders and Chiefs of the Gwich’in Nation during a historic gathering in Arctic Village in 1988. After several days of sharing traditional knowledge and stories, the leadership established the GSC and charged it with the mission to protect the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its essential habitats. The founding vision and guiding principles set forth by those leaders twenty-nine years ago continue to guide the GSC organization today. Every two years at the biennial Gwich’in Gathering, the Gwich’in Nation re-affirms its position and commitment to this issue. The primary goal of GSC has and continues to be permanent protection for the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development. Our companion goal is to work with our conservation allies to defeat efforts to open the Arctic Refuge to development. Learn more at http://ourarcticrefuge.org/