For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Bernadette Demientieff, bernadette@gwichinsteering.com, 907-371-8028

Gwich’in Steering Committee Responds to Bank of America Commitment Not to Fund Arctic Refuge Drilling

WASHINGTON - Joining every other major American bank and dozens of major financial institutions worldwide, Bank of America has updated its lending policy to rule out funding for new drilling in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Indigenous communities including the Gwich’in Nation have called on the bank not to fund the destruction of the refuge’s coastal plain, known to the Gwich’in as the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.

“The Trump administration has never even pretended to care about the Indigenous communities whose human rights would be threatened by the destruction of the coastal plain, but major financial institutions are listening to us,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff. “Although it took over two years it was well worth it. We will never stop fighting to protect the sacred calving grounds from destructive drilling, and we will prevail.”

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“This is not the end of the fight and we must continue to stand united for our lands, our caribou, our ways of life and for our future generations. No one has the right to destroy sacred lands with or without permission.  We still have a lot of work to do,” said Gwich’in Youth Council Member Isaiah Horace, a Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in from Fort Yukon Alaska.

“Thank you Bank of America for this very wise decision to not fund the destruction of sacred lands, otherwise known as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I want to recognize that Bank of America has a corporate goal of investing in environmental sustainability, and with this decision, they are walking their talk, which is greatly appreciated by Gwich’in people. While this is a positive step in the right direction, we will continue the fight as the Trump Administration continues their assault on our sacred lands and our way of life.”  Jody Potts, Han Gwich’in leader from Eagle Village, Alaska

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The Gwich’in Steering Committee was formed in 1988 in response to proposals to drill for oil in the Sacred Place Where Life Begins, the coastal plain of the  Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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