Recently the Alaska Congressional delegation, Don Young, Dan Sullivan, and Lisa Murkoski shamefully attempted to utilize this moment of racial spotlight to benefit their own profit interests, by implying that global banks’ decisions to divest from the fossil fuel industry in Alaska is racially fueled. Banks around the world are divesting from activities that contribute to climate change AND they are listening to Indigenous Peoples calling for the protection of our ways of life. Both Gwich’in and Iñupiat Peoples have made official resolutions to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, therefore divesting from oil and gas development in the Refuge is answering the calls of Indigenous Peoples, it is the right thing to do.
Today we are in a revolution. The world is finally waking up to the long fought battle against racism. Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities have been subjected to subtle and violent racism since the onset of colonialism that has been both systemic and very very personal. Yet, in the last few weeks we are seeing the possibility of real change. We are seeing Justice demanded and taken.
While Arctic Slope Regional Corporation supports drilling in the Arctic Refuge, they are not a tribal entity nor do they require or practice consensus from their Iñupiat shareholders. Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA) is an Iñupiat organization, and while we respect the complex relationship of regional corporations and our Native peoples of the North Slope, we also recognize that regional corporations, by definition of law are not tribal entities and do not meet federal tribal consultation standards/requirements. Alaska Native corporations are beholden to shareholders (who may or may not be tribal members), they are not necessarily accountable to tribal membership. When Alaska’s congressional delegation sides with the corporations rather than the Alaska Native nations it is for blatant interest in oil and gas profits, not people and definitely not for racial equity.
For decades, Gwich’in and Iñupiat peoples have spoken, rallied, petitioned, and pleaded for recognition of Indigenous rights to food security and our long practiced ways of life. SILA stands united with our Gwich’in neighbors in the call to protect the Porcupine Caribou herd whose birthing grounds are on the coastal plain of what is now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We stand united with Black, Indigenous, and peoples of color globally in our demands to address climate change which is creating a continuous crisis in so many of our communities right now. SILA stands united with Black, brown, and Indigenous lives that are threatened daily by systemic racism. This systemic violence has been perpetuated by elected leadership who would manipulate our suffering for their profit.
By calling for a federal investigation of the banks who have taken a stand to support Indigenous Peoples rights, the Alaska congressional delegation — Senators Murkowski, Sullivan, and Representative Young — have shamefully declared, once again, that they side with corporate profits rather than racial equity.