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Gwich’in Leaders Launch "Protect our Homelands"

Arctic to the Desert Southwest Film Tour

PHOENIX - Members of the Gwich’in Nation, who have relied on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for survival for millennia, are traveling from the Arctic across the desert Southwest to raise the alarm about urgent threats facing the Arctic Refuge. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the world’s last untouched wild places. Now, much like public lands across the Southwest, it’s facing the greatest threats in decades.

Members of the tour include Bernadette Demientieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee and James Nathaniel Jr. who sits on the Steering Committee Board. Jeneen Frei Njootli, an artist from the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation of Canada and founding member of the ReMatriate Collective will also be joining the tour.  Follow the tour here.

“The Gwich’in Nation has a powerful story to bring to communities across the country. Protection of the Arctic Refuge is about preservation of a people and it’s an indicator of what the future holds for all of our public lands and the communities that rely on them,” said Alli Harvey, of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign in Alaska.

The group will traverse four states in just over a week, showing the new Patagonia film The Refuge, part of the Granted film series, and finding common ground with communities that depend on public lands.

The film explores the relationship between the Gwich'in Nation, the Alaska Native and First Nations People living next to what is now known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Porcupine Caribou herd which is the basis for their subsistence and culture. It delves into the long battle of the Gwich'in people to stave off oil development in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, the birthing ground for the Porcupine Caribou Herd.

"Our identity is not up for negotiation," said Bernadette Dementieff, executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee. "We must stand united to protect the indigenous communities throughout the world."

The tour will make stops in:

Tuscon and Phoenix, Arizona-  May 18th - 20th  

Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada - May 21st - 24th

Salt Lake City and Moab, Utah - May 26th - 28th

Grand Junction, Alamosa, and Boulder, Colorado - May 29th - June 1st


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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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