Organizational Sign-On: Alaska Native Orgs Demand Stop to Microbeads Research Project
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2022
Press Contact: Panganga Pungowiyi
Menlo Park, CA – Yesterday, an Alaska Native delegation of leaders and stakeholders from across Alaska held a protest outside a fundraising dinner for the Arctic Ice Project (AIP), a multi-million dollar science experiment that threatens the ecosystems of Indigenous communities and has violated their right to consent. The delegation, organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network, attempted to deliver a group letter to the project’s leaders citing concerns on the lack of tribal consultation and free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous communities.
Weeks prior to the event the delegation purchased tickets for the fundraiser but were soon given refunds by the organizers, citing that no more seats were available. However, non-Native supporters of the delegation were later able to purchase tickets for the event with no issue. The fundraiser event was hosted at the Sharon Heights Country Club in Menlo Park, CA, with tickets costing over $300 per seat.
“Failure to develop and test research without true Free Prior and Informed Consent and meaningful consultation is not only unethical, it is dangerous,” said Panganga Pungowiyi, Indigenous mother and IEN Climate Geoengineering Organizer. “Not only has this group ignored Indigenous Peoples, we are being excluded from that conversation, even when we are willing to pay $5000 for tickets to be a part of that conversation. AIP pays lip service to ‘Do No Harm’ which is emphasized on their website.”
Based out of California, the Arctic Ice Project proposes to cover up to 100,000 km² of ocean water with synthetic silica glass in selected arctic regions, theoretically reflecting solar radiation back into space, preventing the melting of ice and snow. It is a multi-year multi-million-dollar collaboration with SINTEF, a European research organization. It has initiated a series of testing sites in Alaska, the largest of which is located on North Meadow Lake on Indigenous Iñupiat territories near Utqiagvik, Alaska.
“Our people have talked to everyone that comes up here to visit, to take pictures, to do science. We have always said the ocean is our garden; it feeds us the way stores and farms feed people down south,” said Micheal Thomas, Subsistence Hunter and Land Steward. “To have people bring projects like AIP up to the arctic and dump a substance all over our garden is not okay. It has got to stop!!”
The Indigenous Environmental Network and its affiliated groups in Alaska have cited numerous concerns about the project, including the fact that there has been no tribal government consultation, no consent obtained by local communities, and not enough assessment on the environmental impacts of these synthetic beads upon regional ecosystems. Furthermore, while these impacts are concern enough, there is also concern about how the cumulative and future impacts of a scaled-up version could impact the ocean and ocean-dependent communities.
“As an Inupiaq & Yup’ik person who grew up wanting to be a ‘scientist’, I can see clearly why something like Arctic Ice Project has come to light & is backed by millionaires,” said Addy Akłaasiaq Ahmasuk, Indigenous Mother. “As an Inuk who has been thru this system and has worked hard to connect with our Traditional Ecological Knowledges – I know these solutions proposed by AIP are false, self-serving & avoid affecting long term change. It is time we radically recenter Indigenous Knowledges practiced literally since time immemorial, that are the most advanced technologies on this earth.”