So why are these 7th grade Inuit kids marching in the streets? Well, on first glance you might expect that they've taken to the streets to protest the relative indifference of many over the threat to their way of life posed by global warming. But they're actually taking on another issue that strikes close to home, and they're letting the world know about it They're calling their group "Rebels to the Pebble" and asking people everywhere to support their cause. In fact, what they're protesting is the creation of the Pebble Mine that's being proposed near Bristol Bay, Alaska to extract two of the world's most precious metals: gold and copper.
Of course there are gobs of money at stake, but the truth is that it could become the biggest mine of its type, as well as the world's biggest dam, smack in the middle of the world's largest salmon fishery.
And their teacher, Kathy McLinn, says the students acted after doing research into the project and its possible effects on the environment. The idea was to study an issue and then write a persuasive essay. And apparently the kids grew tired of that exercise in a hurry
As McLinn points out "They wanted to talk to people who mattered, powerful people, people who could make a difference. I had a 100 percent group of kids who were opposed to the Pebble mine."
And McLinn's students are largely natives, so their families depend on local salmon and plants for subsistence. As she says, "To talk about damaging that in even the slightest way is earth-shattering. It's very, very profound."
As one student said recently at a rally "There's no such thing as a clean mine, and that's what they're proposing." I'm just completely against the mines. It's basically just going to, in my opinion; ruin a lot of our wildlife." And according to a recent survey that's a sentiment that roughly two-thirds of local citizens hold.
Unfortunately, with the price of gold hitting $900 per ounce recently, and the price of copper going up exponentially, the truth, as I suspect it, is that it will be very difficult to hold off that mine...
But when you've got creative, passionate, and committed kids involved you never know what incredible things can happen. And there's no doubt that everyone at Treehugger will be rooting for them!