At AFN, protesters slam Murkowski’s support for Arctic drilling

During Senator Lisa Murkowski’s speech at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage Friday, protesters marched dressed as a salmon, a caribou and a walrus. It was part of an effort to call out Murkowski for her support of Arctic oil drilling. It was the second protest at AFN in two days.

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Protesters took aim at Sen. Lisa Murkowski over her crusade to open more of Alaska to resource development. Photo: Daysha Eaton/KBBI.
Protesters took aim at Sen. Lisa Murkowski over her crusade to open more of Alaska to resource development. Photo: Daysha Eaton/KBBI.

Among the protesters in costume was George Pletnikoff Jr., originally from St. Paul Island, and who now lives in Palmer.

Photo: Daysha Eaton/KBBI.
Photo: Daysha Eaton/KBBI.

“We are here to make a statement that Lisa Murkowski needs to address our demands that we refuse fossil fuel use as continuing it. No drilling in the arctic, no drilling in the National Wildlife Refuge and we must switch towards renewable energies and create a sustainable future.”

Pletnikoff said the protest was organized by members of Alaska’s Rising Tide, Red Oil, Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands.

“The walrus said, ‘Eat me, Murkowski, don’t roll the dice with my ice!’”

That’s Faith Gemmill, with Red Oil who helped organize the protest. AFN officials escorted Gemmill and a protester out after a few minutes.

“We’re losing walrus habitat and their numbers are in decline because of melting ice. We wanted to send her a message that as a decision-maker she can do something to promote and protect indigenous peoples way of life here.”

The senator chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee. Murkowski says she didn’t hear or see the protest, but she defended her record:

“I challenge people who suggest that my focus is all on development of fossil fuels. Look at what we have been doing to build out renewables not only in this state but from a national perspective. Look at what we’re doing here to encourage microgrids, so that our communities will be sustainable.”

Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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