Gwich'in to Drill?
Some tribes and lawmakers are criticizing environmental groups for continuing to represent Native Americans in a simplistic, self-serving way as model caretakers of the Earth. David Lester, a Creek Indian and executive director of the Council of Energy Resources Tribes, says, “Environmentalists are using the Indians the way the French and English used Indians in the French-Indian War: We’re their foot soldiers.” In Alaska, for example, many Native groups support proposals to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But enviros have made much to-do about the opposition of the Gwich’in Indians to the drilling. The Gwich’in say they rely on the refuge to support the Porcupine caribou herd, on which the tribe subsists. In less-publicized news, however, the tribe is working to open up oil resources on land in Canada, away from the herd.