President Trump is destroying the livelihood of the indigenous peoples in Alaska
US tax reform is financed with oil from Alaska’s most important natural preserve (Press Release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has accused US President Donald Trump of deliberately accepting the destruction of the livelihoods of the indigenous peoples of Alaska in order to finance the controversial tax reform. “Alaska’s Gwich’in are supposed to pay the bill for Trump’s adventurous tax policy. The US President couldn’t express his contempt for the Native Americans more clearly,” criticized Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Wednesday. “America’s wealthy people and large corporations will benefit from the tax reform, while the impoverished indigenous Gwich’in are supposed to pay for it – with the loss of their identity.”
About 1 billion USD will be needed to finance the costly tax reform. Thus, the legislative package, which was approved by the US Senate last Saturday, is focused on auctioning 6,070 square kilometers of the 174,000 square kilometer Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas companies. The area will be sold to the highest bidder. The project is very controversial in Alaska. Environmental organizations are accusing the US government of selling off America’s Serengeti. The ANWR is considered one of the most important natural preserves in North America.
However, the ANWR is also situated along the migration routes of more than 200,000 caribou of the indigenous Gwich’in. Every year, in order to calve, the herds visit the coastal plain of the ANWR, which is now to be searched for oil and natural gas deposits. “A loss of their traditional nursery would have catastrophic consequences – both for the caribou and for the Gwich’in,” Delius said. “The Native Americans are spiritually close to their animals, and they worship the place where about 40,000 calves are born every year. They refer to the coastal plain of the ANWR as the “Sacred Place Where Life Begins”.
For more than 30 years, around 9,000 Gwich’in have been trying keep US governments from allowing oil and gas explorations in the ANWR. The Native American community has been dependent on the caribou for thousands of years. They feed on their meat, turn their skins into clothes, and their bones into tools. Thus, the Gwich’in see any intrusion into the habitat of the animals as an aggression against their community.
Header Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters via Flickr