Alaskan Natives Tell Congress to Cap It

The strong Native American presence in Alaska is making its voice heard in Congress on issues of global warming.© GETTY IMAGES

Native Americans joined the growing chorus of voices pleading with the new Democrat-controlled Congress to call for federal action to stem the emission of greenhouse gases widely blamed for causing or exacerbating global warming. Leaders of 125 different Alaska native groups representing thousands of Native Americans are asking Congress to establish a mandatory cap on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to protect the fragile Arctic and sub-Arctic environments many of them depend on for sustenance.

"We want to make the point that our community needs drastic changes in order for us to survive far into the future," said Tony Weyiouanna of Shishmaref, a village in Northwest Alaska that is threatened by warming-induced coastal erosion.

The resolution is unprecedented in that it includes input from every region of the 49th state. Supporters include the Alaska Federation of Natives, a large statewide group, as well as village corporations, tribal governments and regional social-service organizations.

The timing of the resolution coincided with the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings last week on the topic of climate change and whether Congress should take action on it. Beyond distributing the resolution, the Alaskan Natives made their presence felt by holding a rally on the Capitol steps on Wednesday, while freshly minted Oscar-winner Al Gore addressed a packed committee hearing room inside. Several Congresspersons have expressed interest in proposing anti-warming legislation, but whether the full House and Senate are game to pass strong caps is still uncertain.

Source: Alaska Federation of Natives