NO, it is Not a “Flat, White Nothingness.”

Subhankar BanerjeeA guest post by Subhankar Banerjee, photographer and author of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land

NO, it is not a “flat, white nothingness.”

Imagine a land so remote that few have ever visited it except the indigenous peoples. A land so harsh that life exists in a delicate ecological balance. Yet this land has inspired the imagination of millions around the world to fight for its preservation. Unlike any other place on the planet, this is the crown jewel of the circumpolar Arctic, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I was fortunate to have spent fourteen months on a photographic journey through the Arctic Refuge. I traveled with my Inupiat Eskimo friend Robert Thompson from Kaktovik, and later with my Gwich’in Indian friends from Arctic Village. I brought back a holistic story of this magnificent land that includes wildlife, landscape, plants and flowers, and indigenous cultures that have lived in harmony with this land for thousands of years.

NO it is not a “flat, white nothingness” or “frozen wasteland of snow and ice” as described by oil drilling proponents. It is a living, breathing place in every season. Not only does life thrive there in winter, but new life is born during these harsh months (polar bear and muskox). The coastal plain is indeed the biological heart of the refuge. Polar bear, muskox, caribou, Arctic fox, and more than 100 species of birds from six continents give birth and rear their young on this land. It is both an environmental issue as well a human rights issue. The indigenous people depend on this land for their subsistence and cultural needs, and their spiritual health. We must not allow oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge. Please join millions of other Americans to voice your opposition to drilling. You can visit my web site for more information. THANK YOU!