(3-minute read) ‘I WILL F—ING OWN YOUR SCALP!’
The Defend the Sacred group has been running the agenda of the public meetings on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 Area drilling plan.
They showed up and disrupted the Fairbanks meeting last week with drumming, chanting, and yelling. They took over the meeting and federal officials barely managed to contain order.
On Monday, many of them showed up in Anchorage wearing Antifa-style bandanas, covering their faces. There were a lot of F-bombs thrown and extended middle fingers. Lots of signs and banners were raised, too.
They have a perspective: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drawn by Congress, is sacred to the Gwich’in people and their relationship with caribou, which they also consider sacred.
But they have a problem. The land doesn’t belong to them and it’s 150 miles away from their lands. It is an inconvenient fact.
When Power the Future spokesperson Rick Whitbeck spoke on behalf of resource development and the distance the drilling site is to Gwich’in land, he was shown the middle finger by some protesters, was booed by others and received at least one terroristic threat:
“I’ll will f–ing own your scalp!” one of the protesters said to Whitbeck as he closed his presentation. “F– you, white man!”
Another protester made the case that if you drill a hole in the permafrost, it’s like driving an ice pick into her heart, and that an ice road is like slitting her wrists. She said if there’s drilling, she will commit suicide because she will have no more reason to live.
BLM officials originally planned an open house format so that people could gather actual facts before they state their opinion for the record.
But “the people” of Defend the Sacred were not in a mood to gather facts. About 50 of them turned their backs to a BLM representative as he explained the regulatory framework around drilling on the coastal plain, the only area in ANWR set aside for oil development.
Another group was outside the meeting room at the Dena’ina Center, however. They were about as large, and they were in favor of drilling. They were Inupiaq people from the North Slope. The two groups had a few words with each other during the day-long meeting.
The meeting was the last to be held in Alaska. A public meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday will conclude that part of the public process, but comments will be taken until March 13 on the draft environmental impact statement.