Tribes of Bristol Bay Fight Against Pebble Mine

The Rivers of Bristol Bay are a special place for tribes, providing sustenance, livelihoods, and cultural importance, but these rivers could be decimated by the Pebble Mine. Take action until June 27th to save Bristol Bay!

Fishing boats in Bristol Bay. | Kai Raymond

This guest blog was written by the Board of Directors of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay. It is a part of our blog series on America’s Most Endangered Rivers® Rivers of Bristol Bay.

Salmon season is just beginning in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Lots of things are happening this time of year. First, the air fills with the sound of swallows. Then, kings start swimming into our rivers. The first catch is celebrated. Nets are set, and smokehouses fill with strips. This is the way spring has turned to summer each year for generations. But the proposed Pebble Mine threatens that sacred life cycle which we hold dear.

The people of Southwest Alaska have thrived on the clean waters, abundant wildlife, pristine lands and the strong cultural traditions of our region since time immemorial. Our people have a resilient, respectful, and peaceful way of life, grounded in the earth’s provisions and dedicated to honoring our ancestors.

The Pebble Mine threatens more than just our land and waters, and it is more than a disruption of our daily, seasonal and annual activities, our abundant wildlife, and our strong salmon runs. The proposed Pebble Mine is a threat to our livelihood, our people, our culture and our way of life. Our ancestors have not just survived, but thrived, as a unified people for thousands of years because of the natural bounty the earth provides. Developing this mine would go against all that our culture celebrates and relies upon.

For generations, the Dena’ina, Yup’ik, and Alutiiq people of Bristol Bay taught their children to honor the land for what it provides and to hold sacred the water for all it sustains. Our connection to the land and water is what makes us who we are as a people. Salmon, moose, caribou, seals, geese and other wildlife not only provide sustenance, but also ground us in our culture, in a seasonal way-of-life. The natural world is intertwined in our story-telling, dance, clothing, spirituality and all of the other traditions that we teach to our younger generations.

Pebble Mine will not only negatively affect salmon for human consumption, it will affect wildlife’s consumption as well. | Patrick Moody

The executives at the Pebble Partnership claim there will not be harmful impacts to fish, that our culture will not be disrupted, that mining and clean water can co-exist, but we know better. They’ve already proven themselves wrong, mistreating the land in exploration activities and attempting to buy local support.

Nearly twenty years ago, when this project came to light, our elders warned us of the harm that the Pebble Mine would bring. They knew that the mine would bring irreversible impacts: polluted waters, disruption of our hunting and fishing grounds, and a loss of culture as we lose these key components of who we are. Extensive scientific research has since proven what we already knew to be true: Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.

The people of Bristol Bay have stood together to protect our region from Pebble, and we will never back down. We will not give up our livelihoods for the profits of a foreign mining company. Clean water is the lifeblood of our people. It runs like veins throughout our region, sustaining every facet of our lives. In Bristol Bay, we have a resource more precious than gold, and we will not stop fighting to protect it.

Please join the United Tribes of Bristol Bay and American Rivers in asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to defend indigenous peoples, commercial fishermen, wild salmon and clean water by rejecting Pebble’s mining permit application.

Sign-on by June 27th to be included in our petition!

Author:  United Tribes of Bristol Bay Board of Directors

United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB) is the first tribally chartered consortium in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska. UTBB’s mission is to protect the lands and waters that support the traditional way of life of the indigenous people of Bristol Bay by advocating against unsustainable large-scale hard rock mines like the Pebble Project.

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