At the Edge of the Earth

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At the Edge of the Earth

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ALASKA'S INDIGENOUS TRIBES ARE FIERCELY PROUD OF THEIR PRISTINE LAND AND TRADITIONS, BUT AS TRUMP PUSHES TO OPEN UP ITS PROTECTED WILDERNESS FOR OIL EXPLORATION, COULD IT BE UNDER THREAT?

In the dying weeks of summer, the Indigenous Alaskan Gwich’in people do what they’ve done for millennia. Hunt the caribou, so they can feed their people over the coming winter.

Now the Gwich’in tribe fears a new proposal to drill for oil in Alaska’s north could endanger their fragile land and traditions.

As Alaska’s most productive oil field runs low, the Trump administration is pushing ahead with a plan to explore for new supplies in the country’s largest protected wilderness – the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

The Gwich’in people worry it could disrupt the caribous’ calving grounds and are fighting the proposal.

Hundreds of kilometers north, some members of the Inupiat tribe, which owns part of the land where the drilling is planned, have voted to support the plan.

Alaska is dependent on oil. It provides up to 90% of its revenue, and around one third of its jobs.

The Inupiat hope the revenue from new oil fields will help support their remote communities.

At the Edge of the Earth travels to the remote, northern edges of Alaska to see this stunning landscape and meet its remarkable people.

As these two communities face a difficult debate over drilling, both are aware of the environmental risks. As climate change melts the Arctic ice sheets, polar bears are roaming closer on the hunt for food.

One young Gwich’in leader is determined to fight to protect what they have.

A Foreign Correspondent Story

Credits

Australian Broadcasting Corporation I Foreign Correspondent