"The Gwich'in believe that a bit of human heart is in every caribou - and that a bit of caribou is in every person. Any threat to the animal is a threat to the Gwich'in."
ANWR - Faith-Tradition Meets Politics
In Alaska, a faith-related political dilemma has been reported in the news. The Gwich'in are the northernmost Indian Nation living in fifteen small villages scattered across vast area extending from northeast Alaska in the U.S. to the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. The Gwich'in are carrying out their longstanding responsibility given to them by the Creator to take care of the caribou herds in the ANWR region of Alaska. In Gwich'in villages, caribou provide 60 to 70 percent of their food.
It is being said that drilling in ANWR would violate the Gwich'in people's rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by 154 countries, including the United States, in 1994 and the OAS charter, which is the treaty that founded the OAS shortly after World War II.
The report was released by the Gwich'in Steering Committee; Trustees for Alaska; the Episcopal Church; and Professor Richard J. Wilson, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University in Washington, D.C.
The Gwich'in Nation, with a population of about 8,000, said it is now fighting its toughest battle yet: to ensure that Congress does not open AMWR to oil drilling.
Beach said that unlike tribes in the lower 48 states, Gwich'in are able to subsist off the land and continue to rely on the caribou for food and survival....
.... ..... During a national telephone conference with the media on Oct. 25 to release the report, Bishop Mark MacDonald of the Episcopal Church said it is a moral issue. MacDonald said while the United States uses morality to justify its presence in Iraq and the war, the United States proposes drilling in ANWR and passes this off as progress.
This is a human rights issue - a moral issue - a faith issue - an issue of respect for a religious tradition of the people - an issue involving international treaties. What will Congress do?