July was a very busy month for me. For those who didn’t read last month’s newsletter, I am Samara Kasayulie-Kookesh and I am an intern for SEACC through First Alaskans Institute. As I write this, I am realizing how fast my internship went by and how soon it will end. My last day with SEACC is this Friday, and this newsletter is one of my final tasks for the summer. As always, we’ll start off with some bad news, and end on a good note with some information I’m excited to share.
To start things off, here’s the bad news.
Pollutants from thousands of miles away have been found in mammals in the Northern Bering Sea. Traces of these pollutants have been found in seals and whales, which are a big food source for the Indigenous people in the area. This shows that what is affecting a certain area on one side of the earth can soon migrate to the other side, carried through the wind and water.
But this isn’t just about the chemicals. These sea mammals are also affected by the melting of glaciers, ice, and permafrost, as well as the presence of microplastics in the ocean. As the earth starts to get hotter, these situations will only get worse.
For more information, read “Pollutants from far away found in Bering Sea animals hunted by Indigenous people” from Anchorage Daily News.
Now for the good news — here’s what I’ve been excited to share.
As part of my internship with SEACC, I hosted a community event here in Angoon. My main focus was on trying to improve our landfill situation. I researched recycling processes and looked into all the things Angoon can do to help fix our landfill. From July 22 to 23, Indigenous Engagement Lead Heather Evoy and Inside Passage Waters Program Manager Aaron Brakel came to Angoon to help support me with this project.
We held a community cleanup at the landfill and later that day I gave my presentation to the community about what I have been working on. I spoke about possible solutions for cleaning our landfill, recycling in Angoon, and even a way for this to help fix the potholes on our roads. About a dozen people showed up and had many questions and comments regarding my work. I helped create a small committee with the people who came. This event was something I had been very nervous about, but I was glad I got to put it together with the support of SEACC.
Now, as I write this, the Senate has announced a new climate and energy deal that includes billions in funding for clean technology research, rebates for heat pumps and electric cars, and much more. It is NOT everything we hoped for, but it is a start. It shows us that some climate action is possible from Congress, and we hope with your support we can keep moving the needle forward.
Finally, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action is taking nominations for their Youth Organizing Summit, we hope you’ll share this announcement far and wide, and consider applying or nominating a young person in your community!
Matt Jackson, Climate Program Manager, will begin writing this newsletter again next month. For now, consider forwarding this newsletter to a friend so we can keep spreading the word. New readers can sign up here. Matt has a lot that he’s been working on over the summer, including some state policies that could make a difference in your wallet and your emissions, so stay tuned.
To summarize, it has been a very busy month — for myself and everyone else in this world. My internship has gone by very fast, I would like to thank you for taking some time out of your day to read this, and for supporting me and SEACC.
First Alaskans Institute and SEACC Climate intern