Mother's Letter to Congress
Thank you to those who signed our letter to Congress, which was submitted to official Congressional record in a hearing this morning. Read our statement on the hearing here.
Dear U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Members: We are mothers raising our families in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska. Like our Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Aluutiiq ancestors, we were raised on the pristine lands, waters, and natural resources of our region. Now, we are raising our own families here, and are passing down to our children the same traditional way of life that our mothers and grandmothers passed down to us. We are thankful and proud to raise the next generation of Bristol Bay with the indigenous values and traditions that have kept our people strong, healthy, and happy since time immemorial. Like our ancestors, we take great care of the land and water because it has, and will, continues to sustain the life of our families, our children, our future.Today, we write to the committee concerning the proposed Pebble Mine. Unfortunately, we cannot travel to Washington, DC to speak to you directly, but we feel it is important that our voices are heard on an issue so critical to the future of our families and our home. Simply put, mines like Pebble threaten our communities and way of life. Our cultures are so intertwined with the lands and waters that one cannot survive without the other. Our children’s health, and the future of our people, depends on the pristine condition of the lands and waters in Bristol Bay. As Sen. Murkowski stated in a 2013 letter to Pebble, the company’s multiple broken promises concerning it permit applications resulted in "anxiety, frustration and confusion" being the norm in many Bristol Bay communities. As the Mothers of Bristol Bay, we are exhausted from being held hostage by a Canadian mining company with the fear of losing everything we hold sacred.Here at home, our waters host the largest remaining run of wild sockeye salmon on the planet. All five species of Pacific salmon not just survive, but thrive here. We are blessed to have the salmon and all other traditional foods at our doorstep to nourish our bodies and souls as they have for all the generations before us. Salmon, clean water, and our traditional subsistence way of life are the lifeblood of Bristol Bay and our cultures.Our region also hosts a unique sustainable fish-based economy, that enables our communities’ and region’s survival in a cash-based economy. You can’t find a family in Bristol Bay that doesn’t depend on the salmon economy directly or in a fishery support industry. Our salmon provide for our families, as a food source, as a source of good paying jobs, and a source of culture. We take great pride in knowing that our children will continue our family businesses. A protected Bristol Bay fishery will continue to provide in all these ways for our families in perpetuity.In addition to raising our families at home, we represent many of the women who have worked tirelessly to ensure the clean water, healthy salmon, and wildlife remain that way for our children and future generations. We supported our tribes and communities in requesting the EPA’s assistance in 2010 when the state of Alaska did nothing to help us. We have attended dozens of meetings, signed postcards asking for protection, met the Pebble company representatives, and really learned about the impacts this project would have in our region. We are driven by our elders’ teachings to respect our lands and waters. And now, after being studied for many years by hundreds of scientists - the science is crystal clear that mines like Pebble cannot safely coexist with the bountiful salmon and pristine waters of Bristol Bay.We know many in Washington, DC have the impression that the mine would sit on vast swaths of untouched land and not impact families in other parts of the United States, but this is simply wrong. The Pebble mine will be dug on top of the headwaters that form our entire Bristol Bay watershed – the very spawning grounds which give life to our salmon.Americans value Bristol Bay not only as an incredible salmon stronghold, but as the best of what’s left for salmon habitat in the United States. From watching the Lower 48 struggle with their salmon runs, we know that if we lose the headwaters of Bristol Bay, the salmon will not come back. We also know that mines like Pebble fail and contaminate all over the world in much less sensitive areas. When we see mines like Mount Polley in British Columbia suffer a new tailings dam failure, we think, “what if that had happened here?” And then we fight harder.Today we are asking you to not think of Pebble as a fight about the bureaucratic, inner-workings of the EPA. Instead, try think of the issue as we do: What if this was your home? What if this was the home of your grandparents, and their grandparents? What if this was your livelihood on the chopping block? What if this was your children and their future being put in question?We need Bristol Bay protected for our children. It not only makes scientific sense but is the right thing to do.There is a reason that the people who actually live here are so vehemently opposed to Pebble. Some things are too special to risk and we count our children’s future among such things.Please consider visiting Bristol Bay. We would be happy to share with you firsthand what we are working so hard to protect. And in the meantime, pick up some wild Alaskan salmon at the store. There is a good chance it not only came from Bristol Bay, but that one of our children actually picked it from the net. As you enjoy eating it, consider how you can use your position to do what’s right. We, the mothers of Bristol Bay, are relying on you to help us protect our families’ future.Thank you,Click here to view list of signers.Click here to add your name.