My name is Miho Aida. I am the director of a short documentary called “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins - Gwich’in Women Speak.”
The Gwich’in people, native to northern Alaska and Canada, call the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins." This area is the birthing and nursing ground for the Porcupine Caribou Herd, on which the Gwich’in people have depended physically, culturally and spiritually for millennia.
“In our beliefs, we are not supposed to go to the area because it's sacred.” – Tonya Garnett, Gwich’in
Despite the Gwich’in’s relationship to the coastal plain, this area has been threatened by oil and gas development since 1986. The proposal threatens to violate the internationally recognized human rights to culture, subsistence, health and religion for the Gwich'in.
“This is an issue that will impact our very existence as native people.” – Crystal Frank, Gwich’in.
Sign this petition to let President Obama and Congress know that the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be kept free of oil drilling forever.
Moreover, research has shown that oil drilling in critical caribou calving habitat drives away female caribou and calves, which diminishes calf survival rates. Oil drilling is certain to be detrimental to the survival of the caribou, thus ripping apart the fabric of daily life and sustenance of the Gwich’in.
“Drilling into this area means drilling into our heart and our existence. . . . it’s a human rights issue.” – Sarah James, Gwich’in spokesperson and the recipient of 2002 Goldman Environmental Prize
My film provides a platform for Gwich’in women to speak out to inspire audiences around the world to action. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act, I pledge to collect 10,000 signatures on this petition to tell Congress and President Obama to pass HR 139 and S.1695 - bills that would designate "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins" as wilderness.
Take action today: sign this petition to urge President Obama and Congress to permanently protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Thank you for your support!
Director of "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins - Gwich'in Women Speak"