Guest Blog By Princess Daazhraii Johnson and Wilson Justin
Mrs. Johnson (Neets’aii Gwich’in) is a community organizer with Native Movement & founding member of Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition and Mr. Justin (Ahtna) is a Traditional Leader from Nabesna

Alaska just experienced the third consecutive hottest year on record. Because we are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, Arctic sea ice is also melting faster than expected and causing an increase to sea-level rise. Our Elders, with a skill base of traditional knowledge, hand in hand with conservation practices dating back thousands of years, witnessed these changes and began forecasting potential impacts back in the late sixties. When communicated to scientists and policy shapers, their words landed as if dust or blown snow.

The eyes of the world will be on Alaska, as the United States hands over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland on May 11th, and many Alaska Native people want to make certain their voice is heard loud and clear: We must transition away from a fossil fuel economy that is threatening climate catastrophe across the world. For many decades, wise and cognizant indigenous users of natural resources have spoken to dramatic changes witnessed by their own eyes to no avail. These changes will continue to exact greater cost and economic injustice to the next generation and beyond.




Today, there are six Indigenous groups who are permanent participants of the Arctic Council and the research now is finally including our observations. Millions of dollars spent on scientific research comes to the same conclusions our elders warned us of years ago – that ‘Combatting climate change is an urgent common challenge for the international community and requires immediate global action’. We are now faced with an Administration that threatens the good research and work of indigenous peoples, scientists, NGOs and governments that are pushing hard to protect the biodiversity of our planet. Protecting our transboundary waterways and places like Bristol Bay, the Chuckchi and Beaufort Seas, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and mining interests are critical to ensuring the sustainability of the Arctic and the world. We are all connected by the Arctic and the policies we set today will be felt by generations to come.

Indigenous peoples of the Arctic are among the first that are being forced to relocate entire villages and whose food security is threatened by not only the negative impacts of climate change but by the pollution caused by oil, natural gas spills, and mining operations in our critical ecosystems. Families and communities now face new traumas, new uncertainties and many are forced into decisions they feel have no logical or prudent outcome. The privileges afforded most Americans simply do not exist in the eroding shorelines of these families.

Relying too heavily on oil has created the fiscal crisis we find ourselves in today. Not having the political will to diversify our economy and transition away from our over-reliance on fossil fuels 20 or 30 years ago has resulted in the tough decisions and instability falling upon the shoulders of the generations down the line. Now is the time to stand firm, to prepare ourselves like the wisdom of our elders directed us, and to honor the land, water, and animals that will sustain us far into the future, should we learn from our mistakes.

If we aren’t careful, the lifescape, dreams and land of memories called Alaska we have held dear for tens of generations or more, may be plundered for the benefit of a few, at the expense of the many.


If you are in Fairbanks ~ Please join us on May 10th at 5:30pm at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center (outside of the Arctic Ministerial Meeting that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, will be attending). A broad coalition of Alaskans are organizing a rally outside the Carlson Center. We are hoping that the world hears our message – climate change is not negotiable and Alaskans want jobs that don’t jeopardize our children’s future. The time for innovation and strong policies to decrease the production and use of fossil fuels, is past due.

To learn more about climate justice work in Alaska please visit:
Facebook: Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition or
Twitter: @FBXClimate

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