This Thursday is complex. Many of us grew up spending the day with friends and family celebrating Thanksgiving. But Thursday is also a National Day of Mourning where we must remember our nation’s tragic history with the indigenous peoples who have called North America home from time immemorial. We are trying to recognize both of these here.
We are incredibly thankful for our Inletkeepers. Last week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held 6 hours of virtual hearings on the proposed lease sale in Lower Cook Inlet. We had no idea what the turnout would be. But we didn’t anticipate that over 50 Inletkeepers would show up and stand up for Cook Inlet. Not one person testified in support of the proposed lease sale.
That is worth repeating: 6 hours of testimony, 50+ people, and all united to oppose Lease Sale 258.
Inletkeepers spoke eloquently about remembering the Kachemak Bay oil and gas buyback and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Inletkeepers spoke about the spill risk being too high, our already struggling fisheries, and about climate change. Inletkeepers stood up for our Inlet for a future where we save our sustainable economy while protecting our waters and our future generations.
Many of you are standing up in other ways. Over 2,000 people have signed our petition!! (if you haven’t it is here: inletkeeper.org/ls258). Many of you have shared our petition with friends or with family or shared it on social media. And it’s a great week to share! As you sit down for dinner on Thursday, you can share the petition and your concern about industrializing Lower Cook Inlet with your friends and family.
We are also thankful for Cook Inlet! We are thankful for bounty from the sea and the lands in the watershed that will be on our plates on Thursday and throughout the year. We are thankful for the incredible wildlife that lives in or relies on Cook Inlet . We are thankful for our walks on the beach for our sunsets and sunrises, and our winds and waves. We are thankful for our strong communities around the Inlet.
But this week we also need to turn to our nation’s history and this National Day of Mourning. And we remember our nation’s history of genocide, disease, and stolen land as well as the systemic racism that persists today for the indigenous people here. We remember that Cook Inlet was originally Tikahtnu before colonization. We remember that, like on the east coast, Alaskan Natives assisted European settlers as they moved into a new and challenging land, while in return Alaskan Natives have suffered tremendous loss. (learn more here). We know that the country has not yet gone through the necessary truth and reconciliation processes: starting with listening and recognizing the trauma and heartbreaking loss from colonization. We recognize that we are colonizers here in Cook Inlet and that we are trying to do better – to learn about the past and present harm, to listen to the original and present stewards of this land, and to strive to be true allies.