Thursday, March 13, 2014

Second Sunday in Lent: A Reflection on Justice for Alaskan Natives

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


This Lenten season, we focus on a call to advocate for God’s planet and God’s people.  As followers of Christ, when we see injustices, we are called to make them right.  In today’s world of ever-mounting injustices and inequity, it is more important than ever to have faithful voices working to make change.  In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!”  People of faith have been lifting up their voices on behalf of clean water and the preservation of native culture in Alaska.

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

Bristol Bay, Alaska embodies the magnificent beauty and intricacy of God’s creation.  This rugged area is also incredibly delicate, but has managed to support and sustain the well-being of God’s people for generations.  A proposed open-pit mine at the headwaters of the Bay threatens this balance and the livelihood of many that rely on it.  Bristol Bay has supported Alaskan native subsistence fishermen with salmon, commercial fishermen with a vibrant industry, and thousands of individuals with a healthy and diverse home.  The mine would destroy streams, spawning areas for salmon, and contaminate this pristine watershed.

It is very difficult to deny the importance of clean water in our lives, as well as its importance to the health of the planet, fish, and wildlife.  When a threat to this resource arises, stewards of God’s creation must spring into action.

The Environmental Protection Agency released their Watershed Assessment of the Bay on the heels of aletter sent from faith leaders to the Administrator asking for the assessment to be completed.  This scientific assessment of Bristol Bay asserted that the mine would be harmful to the salmon runs and that “salmon decline would lead to decline in Alaska Native culture, and spiritual life.”  We have recently received wonderful news that the EPA has decided to implement the Clean Water Act to stop the mine from going in.  There is still a process to go through, but we are very joyful about getting justice for Native Alaskans.

God’s gift of clean water should not be taken for granted, and we are called to be advocates for this resource and those that depend on it.  Read more about the spiritual importance of water with Creation Justice Ministries’ 2014 Earth Day resource Water, Holy Water

A prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy Spirit 
For the bounty of the oceans 
For the cycles and fruits of the land 
And for the benefits of your gifts for our families, children and communities 
We give thanks 

For the native traditions of your land 
The rite of subsistence fishing that has provided for generations 
And our descendants who will inherit native traditions 
We give thanks 

For the beauty of creation 
For those who came before us and 
For our children and the earth they inherit 
We give thanks to you Lord.


Tricia Bruckbauer is an Eco-Justice Fellow at Creation Justice Ministries (CJM), formerly the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program.  CJM represents 37 Christian denominations and their policies relating to Creation care.  To learn more  Tricia also coordinates the efforts of Presbyterians for Earth Care.

No comments:

Post a Comment