Gwich'in Steering Committee

Protecting the Sacred Place Where Life Begins since 1988

This content shows Simple View

David Thompson

Demolitions and Excavating Impact in the Surrounding Ecosystems

Demolition on a house

There many ways you can carry out exavation and demolitions on any site. The equipment and tools used vary and so is the impact on the surrounding ecosystems. Generally, ecosystems are complex and sensitive, a small alteration to its components will lead to vast impacts. Below are the common demolitions and excavating impact in the surrounding ecosystems.

Potential for Air Pollution

These two activities produce dust and debris that are carried freely in air. In the past, this dust has been considered a nuisance. In the recent past, studies have proved that there are many health hazards associated with this hazardous dust. Diseases such as silicosis, asthma, and histoplasmosis among others have their source traced to demolition and exaction dust.  According to experienced demolition company Heneghan Wrecking & Excavating, these concerns can be mitigated by following proper procedure, as well as workers donning the proper masks and equipment.

It’s important to note that this dust directly impact on the way vegetation and other plants grow. In fact in some case, it causes complete extinction of plant species. Other animals in the surrounding may experience breathing problems among other effects and this may force them to try adapt or migrate completely from the area. All these greatly affect the ecosystem.

Also, it’s this dust that results in the formation of acid rain that corrodes roofs among other structure. The economic and health effects associated with this aspect are vast.

Concerns for Water Contamination

There is a common saying that water is life. This is true. To understand how serious the demolitions and excavating impact in the surrounding ecosystems is, try to understand its effects on water. With the two activities, both surface and ground water are exposed to pollution. Moreover, the water quality received from treatment is also reduced. All these, means that no plant, animal or human is receiving water in its pure form. This will not only implant on their growth but also their productivity. With water contamination all over, the aquatic species are at a higher risk of extinction and unnecessary disturbances.

Stability of Other Structures

ExcavationExcavation exposes pipelines, electric cables and when heavy machinery are used, the stability of structures nearby is reduced. During demolition, some of the debris may collect on the walls of the structures around. This weakens them. This not only has an economic significance but possess as a serious security problem to the habitats of the affected building.

Excavation produces pits that can be dangerous to people and animals in the surrounding. The two activities produces large debris that could be life threatening if they accidentally fall.

Effects on Surrounding Soil

First, excavations loosens the soil and exposes it to multiple forms of erosion. Also, fertile top soil is usually covered during demolition and excavation. Moreover, the debris resulting from these activities could be piled in one area and this could affect transport among other activities. Also, the habitat where these piles are situated is usually completely destroyed in the process. These forms of soil pollution negatively impact the surrounding ecosystem.

Basically, what these two activities do is to cause so much simplification to the ecosystem. It’s this that results in so much instability and extinction of main players in the ecosystem. The long term effects are global warming, depletion of natural resources and an unhealthy society.

Undesirable Chemicals in Drinking Water – What You Need to Know

Safe Drinking Water

When it comes to drinking water, there are very few of us who would hesitate when grabbing a glass of water at a restaurant or in a friend’s home when we know the water has come from the tap.  Unless we know for certain that the water in an area has been contaminated, we often assume that the water has been filtered in some capacity. The Utah based ecologist James P McMahon has some excellent information on his website about the dangers of drinking unfiltered water. He sells a water filter which is custom built, called the Urban Defender. James believes this is the best whole house water filter available today. If you would like to know more about the Urban Defender please see

So what kind of dangers could be hiding in water that hasn’t been filtered?  Are there chemicals that could make their way into our water that would make us sick from drinking it? There are a few undesirable chemicals that can be found in unfiltered water, such as:

  • Pesticides – Areas that are surrounded by farms, or get their water from natural means—lakes, wells, aquafers—run the risk of having their water contaminated by pesticides used on crops, or from lawn run-off. Pesticides in water can lead to damage to organs, and hormone imbalances.  Continued exposure over a long period of time can lead to serious illnesses, such as cancer.
  • Chlorine – This is a scent most of us can recognize fairly quickly, because it’s used to keep pools clean. Chlorine has been hailed as a miracle for stopping the spread of diseases through dirty water, and while it is extremely efficient in killing bacteria, drinking it in water over long periods of time is not good for one’s health.  In recent years, the focus has come off of removing harmful pathogens from drinking water and instead the focus has shifted to the fact that long term chlorine exposure is known to cause cancer.
  • Lead – Lead can make its way into water a variety of ways, such as from rusty pipes, or from improper filtration systems. Lead poisoning in adults can be mild, or barely noticeable.  However, the real danger comes when children or pregnant women ingest water contaminated with lead.  Babies and young children are very easily affected by lead, which can lead to cognitive delays, and permanent brain damage.  If there’s any worry about water being contaminated with lead, cease drinking and bathing with it immediately.
  • Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) – Lye is added in order to control the pH of water that is more acidic than it should be. The lye brings the pH back up to 7, which is what regular tap water should be.  However, drinking large qualities of lye in water, or drinking this mix for a long time can have serious effects on your health.  This is especially true because the usual reason there is a need to add lye to drinking water is because the use of chlorine has caused the water to become too acidic, which can slowly eat away at your pipes over the years.

One or more of these harmful chemicals can be found in any water you’re drinking in your home.  It’s important to make sure that you filter water you have access to with either a built in filter, or with a simple filter you can refill and leave in the fridge for drinking.  Being proactive is the best way to protect yourself and your family from unknowingly drinking something harmful.

What are the Piping and Plumbing Effects on Environment and Wildlife?

While protecting the environment is essential for both the current and future generation, and many companies and individuals strive to achieve the same, some activities eventually pose some dangers to the environment. Plumbing, for instance, is important for supplying clean water to and wastewater from homes and institutional buildings, but the act can often turn out to be an environmental hazard. For this reason, companies strive to ensure their operational activities are safe to the environment. This act is sometimes referred to as corporate social responsibility. Some plumbing companies have also resorted to green plumbing to ensure their plumbing services are safe to the environment. Below are piping and plumbing effects on environment and wildlife.

Cause Sanitation Problems for Humans

Sanitary Sewer
Workers installing a sanitary sewer, which handles surface run-off as well as wastewater.

Sanitary sewers sometimes overflow and occupy surfaces, exposing untreated wastewater to both humans and animals alike. This can be caused by blocked flow of wastewater due to solids and grease that accumulate and eventually block the pathway. Wastewater is known to back up in manholes and sewer cleanouts. Grease, solids and other debris that are washed down your drain build up over time to cause blockage.

This excessive accumulation can restrict the free flow of wastewater, potentially resulting in a serious sanitary sewer overflow and posing a danger to the environment. This is sometimes handled by municipal sewer administrations or commercial plumbers, to insure that overflow is not necessary.  However the most common aspect is overflow dumping into nearby bodies of water.  One Jersey City Plumber noted this, as the city lies right next to the Hudson river, “Overflow goes directly into the Hudson.  You hate to see it happen, especially when its raw sewage and other garbage, but the only other option is to drop it in the streets.” All these can be a health hazard to humans, aquatic life, animals, and the overall environment.

Water-Related Air Pollution

The act of supplying water to homes and commercial buildings causes air pollution. This is because pumping this water requires energy in the form of electricity, natural gas and diesel. Therefore, every gallon of water consumed uses fossil fuels, and the higher the water consumption the higher the amount of energy used, and therefore the higher the level of air pollution. Using more water equals more air and environmental pollution.

Non Energy-Saving Appliances

The use of household appliances such as water heaters, boilers, and gas cookers at home is because of plumbing. While energy-saving appliances are great to use since they not only save energy but also emit less smoke and other pollutants to the environment, some of those appliances emit dangerous levels of carbon dioxide to the environment and atmosphere. Other appliances leak and waste tons of water, which could otherwise have been used for other purposes.

Waste of Water and Energy

Toilets in households consume a lot of water, which is flushed down the drain after use. Washing machines, showers, faucets, leaks, and baths can also waste gallons of water each day. Energy in the form of electricity is often required to pump this water to households. Eventually, sophisticated plumbing and piping result in several forms of water outlet, resulting in a waste of water resources. Water conservation is important to the environment and in the preservation of fossil fuels.

Piping and plumbing can have devastating effects on both environment and wildlife. To help preserve the environment and protect wildlife, it is important to observe environmentally safe practices that aim to preserve the ecosystem. It is a collective responsibility for virtually everyone in the community to take a proactive role in ensuring health and safety for all.

Technologies to Clean Oil Wreckage Also Have Household Applications

The famous deep water horizon oil spill, as well as numerous other oil spills that we’ve documented, have made companies be interested in finding the best technologies to clean oil wreckage. While some of these are “space age” technologies, some are also relatively basic and can also be applied to household applications like carpet cleaning, laundry and other cleaning tasks. The list below will provide you with the insight on latest methods being used.

Use of Chemical Dispersants

This is a method that is used in deep sea. A chemical is sprayed on the water to break the oil into very tiny droplets that can easily mix with the water column. These droplets can now be eaten by microbes that further break them into less harmful compounds.  If used in the house, the chemical can be sprayed on the affected area and then use water to clean out any droplets or dirt created by this mixture, a common technique practiced by many large scale cleaning companies like Red River Carpet Cleaning. The water can be poured outside since it now less harmful.

• Use of MIT Magnets Technique

The "MIT Magnet Technique" has been used to extract oil from bodies of water.
The “MIT Magnet Technique” has been used to extract oil from bodies of water.

This is where good water-repellent ferrous nanoparticles are mixed in the oil plume and then a magnet is used to get the oil completely out of the water. The good part is that this process will allow a possible reuse of this oil.   This is a bit too advanced for residential applications, but has some uses in industrial applications on a non-disaster scale.

• Use of Super Absorbent Polymer Substance or Material 

This unique material is called PETROGEL. When in oil, it is able to soak up to forty times its original weight. This is possible because it has the ability to transform any absorbed oil into a very soft and solid oil containing gel. It is estimated that a pound of this special material can recover or absorb five gallons of crude oil. This soaked material could be taken to an oil refinery so that the absorbed oil could be recovered.

If you have oil spilled in your water storage tank, then this is the best material to clean up that mess.

• Use of the Lotus Leaf Inspired Oil Trapping Mesh

This is a stainless steel mesh that is able to allow water to easily go through but completely stops oil. The mesh was designed such that when a mixture is poured onto it, then oil is completely repelled. Larger nets could be useful for sea cleanup and the oil be reused.

In the house, boil and pour hot water on the affected area so it rips off the oil. Take this mixture of hot water and oil and pour it on this mesh to separate the water and the oil.

• Use of Aerogel

The translucent properties of Aerogel have led it to be named "Liquid Smoke".
The translucent properties of Aerogel have led it to be named “Frozen Smoke”.

This is also called NASA’s frozen smoke. Cleaning of oil wrecks is done through the creation of an Aerogel sponge. The chemistry of this sponge could be altered or changed so it could absorb either water or oil. It has a very low density allowing it to absorb so much oil as compared to all the other materials used. It works as a kitchen sponge and could be placed at a strategic point it absorbs the oil way before it reaches the coastline or the shore.


It’s now a fact that technologies to clean oil wreckage also have household applications like window, floor and carpet cleaning. The points listed above are just a few examples that are commonly used. All you have to do is to choose one that best meets your needs and you can afford.

Real Estate and Housing Issues Facing Native Americans in Texas

housing-market-native-americansThe housing and real estate industry are growing drastically in Texas and the world in general. New houses are built every day. The selling and buying of real estates have become a common business. While some people acquire their houses and real estates, others hire them. With the high rate of growth in the industry, many challenges are facing it. Some are at individual level, both for property owners and tenets, as well as at the sector level. If the challenges are not properly addressed in time, they may pose a problem to the industry in the near future. The remedy will begin at the individual level to the industry level. Proper measures ought to be found before it is too late. This article aims at discussing some of the real estate and housing issues facing Native Americans in Texas.

Lack of basic accessibility features

A great deal of the homes and real estates in Texas require modifications for access. However, many people especially the old and those with disabilities are not able to afford the modifications. As such, such people are unable to access the homes, a factor which makes the houses and real estates of no significance to them. Plans for the properties should make consideration of such people and thus put in place proper measures to ensure that the people use the properties.

Lack of in-home health solutions 

There is a low supply of health services to the homes in Texas. People who are aged, disable and those with a low income find it hard to access such services. Due to the inadequate supply of in-home health services, the cost of what is available is high. The issues are making life in real estates and homes hard for the above groups. It poses a big risk to those people since they are the most prone to health conditions due to their low conditions of living.

Unavailability of affordable houses

With the increase interest rates for funding and increased cost of construction, the rates for hiring or buying real estates and houses have increased. However, the incomes for the Native Americans in Texas have not increased proportionally. It’s possible to search for a professional assistance in the home search, such as a Realtor in Frisco, TX, but this doesn’t eliminate the problem entirely.  The result is that on a few people cannot afford the houses and real estates at the current prices. Some fail to enjoy such properties because they are not able to pay for them. Moreover, the affordable ones are I high demand; a factor that has caused their prices to keep on increasing. Houses and mortgages rank high in the list of monthly expenses for households. The high costs for housing, and real estates have forced many people to cut their consumption for other products because of the budget constraint.

Disconnecting social ties

The old as well as people with low incomes who cannot drive or are unwilling to, and live in the suburban and rural areas, are forced to remain there for long before they can move out of their residential areas to meet with relatives and friends in other places. Social interaction for some people is limited to their location.

There exist many issues facing the Native Americans as far as real estates and housing are concerned. Proper measures ought to be put in place to make the properties more useful to them.

Indigenous Trees throughout the US

For those that hold the native land of the Americas to be sacred, the planting of a tree is a satisfying, even spiritual act. It will not only contribute to the environment, it will offer you relaxation as well. Choosing the trees native to the region will be a rewarding job as you will not have to take much care of your trees as they will grow naturally. If they find the climates favorable and can grow with the minimal attention.  The benefits of the native trees are that they can grow without much care and can survive thousands of years even with the extreme climate conditions. The native trees are able to adjust to the changing environments. They also learn to cope with the pests and insects. If you are looking native trees in USA, then consider the followings.

Indigenous Trees in the US by Region

In state of the Alabama, you will get Longleaf pine and in Alaska, Sitka spruces are the natives.  In Arizona, Blue Palo Verde is the native and in Arkansas, Loblolly Pine is the local tree that can be grown without much attention. in American Samoa, pandanus and the coast redwood are the indigenous trees and in California, you will find giant sequoia as the native. In Colorado, Colorado Blue is the native and in district of the Columbia scarlet oak is known as the indigenous trees. in Delaware, American Holly and in Florida Sabal Palm are the native trees.

In Georgia, Southern live oak is the native and in Hawaii Candlenut tree is the local tree. In Indiana, tulip tree, in Iowa Bur oak, in Kansas eastern cottonwood, in Maine eastern white pine.  In New England States like Massachusetts and Rhode Island you will find flowering dogwood (special thanks to this tree service company in Rhode Island which gave us some special insighnts into this).  In Michigan white pine are the natives. Besides, in Montana, Ponderosa pine, in Nevada great basin bristlecone pine, in New Jersey northern red oak, in New Mexico penon pine, and in New York, sugar maple trees are indigenous.

In North California, you will find pine trees as the natives. in North Dakota American Elm is the local tree and in Oregon, Douglas –fir is known as the local trees. in south California Sabal palm, and in South Dakota Black hills spruce is the native trees. In Texas pecan, in Utah quaking aspen, in Vermont sugar maple, in Virginia flowering dogwood, in Washington western hemlock, and in West Virginia and Wisconsin sugar maple are indigenous trees. in Wyoming, plains cottonwood is the native tree.


See the following map provided by which shows the various “zones” throughout the US. These zones affect the types of plants/trees that are able to thrive in those areas:


These are some of the native trees in states of the US. All these trees are friendly to their native environment and can be grown naturally without much effort. You just need to know when and how to plant it. You should have the proper idea about the planting season to make sure that it will be grown on its own. You will have to follow some basics to ensure that these trees are getting enough water and foods.

Other Resources:

“Types of Trees on Long Island” by The Long Island Tree Service.

Long Island Tree Works


Who We Are

jonathansolomonJonathan Solomon
Fort Yukon

“It is our belief that the future of the Gwich’in and the future of the caribou are the same. We cannot stand by and let them sell our children’s heritage to the oil companies.”
The Seattle Times, Monday, March 5th, 2001

Jonathon Solomon passed away on July 13, 2006. Jonathon served on the Gwich’in Steering Committee since its formation. He drew upon decades of experience and knowledge from the Rampart Dam fight to the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement, which helped to put the Gwich’in Nation in a stronger position to protect the Sacred Place Where Life Begins. We will continue to draw strength from his legacy.

sarahjames Sarah James
Board Member/Spokesperson
Neet’sai Gwich’in, Arctic Village

“We are the Ones Who Have Everything to Lose”

Maybe there are too few of us to matter. Maybe people think Indians are not important enough to consider in making their energy decisions. But it’s my people who are threatened by this development. We are the ones who have everything to lose.

The oil companies keep saying that all their roads and pipelines aren’t going to bother the caribou. But we know the caribou. We know they don’t like all that stuff, especially when they are having their calves. We are concerned about all the salt and chemicals they put on their roads. It can drain onto the tundra, get into the water, and be unhealthy for the young caribou. A report from the Canadian government tells us that the caribou have already been disturbed around the oil fields. If we lose the caribou there will be no more forever.

Sarah James, Arctic Refuge: a Circle of Testimony

normakassi Norma Kassi
Board Member/Spokesperson
Vuntut Gwich’in, Old Crow

“Contaminants in the Yukon”

I was raised on Old Crow Flats in northern Yukon. Old Crow Flats is one of the world’s great wetlands, having more than 2000 lakes throughout 600,000 hectares just above the Arctic Circle. The name of my people—Vuntut Gwitchin—means “the caribou people of the lakes.” We’ve lived here for thousands and thousands of years.

My grandfather said to me, “You know, some day when you’re a woman you’re going to see a lot of changes. When there’s only loons out there, you’re going to know then that something’s wrong with the land and with the weather.”

That was thirty years ago. Now I go back to Old Crow Flats every three or four years, and I see the changes in the land. I sit at that same spot and I remember my grandfather’s words. Every time I return I see fewer animals, fewer fish, fewer birds. The water is silent and so crystal clear I can see to the bottom. There used to be so much activity, so much aquatic life-such as insects and little shrimp-like things that are food for other animals like muskrat—that I couldn’t see to the bottom. Now I can. And now I see a pair of loons out there, and that’s about it.

Norma Kassi, Northern Perspectives

Kay Wallis
Board member/Spokesperson
Gwich’yaa Gwich’in, Fort Yukon

Ernest Erick
Board member/Spokesperson
Neet’sai Gwich’in, Venetie

Peter Solomon
Board member/Spokesperson
Gwich’yaa Gwich’in, Fort Yukon

lucibeach Luci Beach, Executive Director
Gwich’yaa/Vuntut Gwich’in

“The Land Where Life Begins”

The Hearts of the Gwich’in Nation and the Porcupine caribou herd of Alaska have been linked since time immemorial. The Gwich’in people’s creation story tells that the Gwich’in will always keep a part of the caribou heart, and the caribou will always keep a part of the Gwich’in heart. The biological heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known to the Gwich’in as Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit (the Sacred Place Where Life Begins), is the calving and nursery ground of the Porcupine caribou herd. Now this sacred place is being threatened by the proposal to commence widespread oil-drilling explorations.

Luci Beach, Native Peoples Magazine


caribouisourlifeGwich’in Steering Committee needs your help. Gwich’in Steering Committee is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, the birthing and nursery ground of the Porcupine River caribou herd from oil and gas drilling and protecting Gwich’in culture. Please help us in our fight to save The Sacred Place Where Life Begins. You can help support us by sending a tax-deductible donation at the following address:

The Gwich’in Steering Committee
122 First Avenue, Box 2
Fairbanks, AK. 99701
tel (907) 458-8264 fax (907) 457-8265