“Chosen By My People” is my new video and a call to action to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Gwich’in Indians’ subsistence way of life. This is an extremely important human rights and environmental issue.
Filmed in the summer of 2016 in Arctic Village, Alaska by world-renowned nature and wildlife photographer Florian Schulz, “Chosen By My People” tells the story of the struggle to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
The Gwich’in Indians – or the caribou people – have lived in unity with the Porcupine Caribou Herd of Northern Alaska for thousands of years. These caribou migrate each year to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to give birth and raise their young. The coastal plain remains vulnerable to oil drilling. This drilling would threaten both the Porcupine Caribou herd by eliminating their calving grounds and the Gwich’in people, who depend on the caribou to sustain their subsistence way of life. This is an extremely important human rights and environmental issue and has implications for climate change.
About the Video
“Chosen by My People” was written and performed by Dana Lyons. Dana has been traveling to the Arctic and speaking out to protect it since 1989. Dana was initially invited to Arctic Village by Gwich’in leader Sarah James (featured in the video preparing caribou meat).
The Arctic Wildlife Refuge is home to the porcupine caribou herd, which numbers well over 100,000. The proposed oil drilling would occur where the caribou have their calves, which will endanger or destroy the herd, and destroy the Gwich’in subsistence hunting way of life.
The Story Behind “Chosen By My People”
I’ve had the honor of visiting my friend and Gwich’in leader Sarah James numerous times since 1989, during the long struggle to protect the Arctic Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. In June 2001, I attended an emergency meeting about the Refuge in Arctic Village, Alaska attended by hundreds of Indigenous and environmental leaders from across North America. Arctic Village had recently elected 25-year-old Evon Peter as chief. I was moved by the way Evon worked with the elders and the leaders, and the enormous responsibility placed on this young leader: his people’s way of life could be destroyed by oil drilling on his watch.
Filming of the Video
“Chosen by My People” was filmed at sunset in the tundra outside Sarah James’ home in Arctic Village, Alaska. Filmed by Florian Schulz and Jake Soplanda, sound by Carl Battreall. http://www.visionsofthewild.com/
Dana is playing a backpacking guitar by Early Winters.