OPINION: Ambler tribal council thanks President Biden, Secretary Haaland

I’m a member of Ivisaappaat Tribal Council. I feel like I should set the record straight. On March 24, a commentary appeared in the ADN by someone saying they were president of our village. We do not have a president; we have a first and second chief (Mollie Brown and Eva Henry). Also wrongly implied was that our council supports the Ambler road.

Actually ITC has been against the Ambler Road for a long time. And in March, our council passed yet another resolution opposing the road. We already had a resolution against the road but so much has been going on the last couple of years that it was necessary to renew it. Our council is unanimous: We support no Ambler road ever to be built. And we let the Bureau of Land Management know that the right way.

And on April 19, we were real happy to hear that President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland sided with our people and rejected the idea, too. Taikuu! Our whole council thanks him! President Biden should reject the road indefinitely.

Those of us who were raised in the village know how important this is to our people. My people should never follow outside organizations. We are elected by our people; they put their trust in us to show leadership, make decisions to benefit our tribe.

Two members of our council passed away recently, Shield Downey Jr. and Katherine Cleveland. They would be so happy to see this news. Both were elders much older than me, with so much knowledge. They were both against the road. Shield even went all the way to Washington, D.C., for us, and told Sen. Lisa Murkowski face to face: We support no road. We are so grateful to Shield and Katherine for their leadership.

ITC has a responsibility to our tribe, to protect our families and our way of life for the next generations. We are fully against the Ambler Road because we have to protect what was divinely given to us Indigenous peoples: to thrive, not to destroy our land and our resources, especially our food that we eat daily.

Martha Wood is a member of Ivisaappaat Tribal Council and has lived in Ambler most of her life. Her parents are the late Clarence and Marie Wood. She was raised at Hunt River, a tributary of the Kobuk River downriver from Ambler.

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