Counting over 200,000 animals, the Porcupine caribou herd is a natural treasure shared by Canada and the United States. The herd roams freely between Alaska's coastal plain and the Richardson Mountains in the Northwest Territories. "Stories for the Arctic Refuge" is a multimedia project coordinated by the International League of Conservation Photographers involving 40 photographers, videographers, writers, and artists who worked together to highlight various aspects of the importance of preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Porcupine caribou calving grounds. The caribou and the people who depend on them for sustenance have been living according to the natural rhythm of seasonal migration for thousands of years. Efforts by the Trump administration to open the coastal plain where the caribou calve to resource exploration put the future of the herd, and the future of communities who depend on the caribou, in jeopardy.

Members of the Gwich'in Nation have been long time vocal opponents to any development in the calving grounds, and active participants in natural environment conservation efforts in Alaska and the Canadian Western Arctic. For thousands of years they have depended on the caribou for food and materials to make clothing, tools, and traditional crafts. A Gwich’in story of creation says that the man and the caribou were once created with a piece of the other’s heart in his own. Because of that they are spiritually and physically connected, and they live in harmony. For the Gwich’in protecting the Arctic Refuge is not just an environmental issue. It’s a matter of being able to put food on the table, and to maintain their culture and tradition. For most residents of the Arctic communities living off the land is not a lifestyle choice but the most affordable and sustainable way to feed their families. I hope that in collaboration with the Gwich'in Nation and other participants of the project I can contribute to bringing attention to the fact that decisions made in Washington, D.C. regarding drilling on Alaska’s coastal plain (also known as “1002 lands”) go far beyond destroying a pristine natural environment. Opening the Porcupine caribou herd calving grounds to resource development would likely devastate North America’s biggest and healthiest caribou herd, and affect Indigenous communities on both sides of the U.S-Canada border.

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