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Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Hardcover – September 1, 2004


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Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge + Crosscurrents North: Alaskans on the Environment + Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578051142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578051144
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,994,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this poetic cri de coeur, Bass (The Book of the Yaak) turns his focus to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He visited there to join the Gwich-'in tribe in its annual hunt for the life-sustaining caribou—as the Bush administration pressured Congress to open the herd's traditional calving grounds to oil drilling. This bittersweet account of his stay conveys a profound appreciation for the immense, unblemished majesty of one of the few almost untouched landscapes on Earth; an eye-opening understanding of the intimate spiritual and physical connection, stretching back as much as 10,000 years, between the scattered Gwich-'in tribes and the migrant caribou; and an unexpected respect for how tribal elders and a young generation of activists in Arctic Village (pop. 150) have developed a media-savvy offense against "predatory" Alaskan politicians desperate to drill for a few months' worth of petroleum. Bass is no starry-eyed optimist arguing abstractly for the environment; he concludes his emotional defense of the Gwich-'in uncertain that the preservation of a precious, ancient way of life is possible. But this eloquent narrative holds out hope.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where corporate and governmental interests want to drill for oil, is the homeland of the Gwich'in, "people of the caribou," a group that has lived on this harsh land and hunted its animals for 20,000 years, making the ongoing debate over the preservation of the refuge as much a human rights issue as an environmental concern. Bass, a well-known, profoundly expressive writer, traveled to Arctic Village to get a sense of what's at stake. He couldn't be a better emissary. Not only is Bass a hunter and a lover of pristine terrains, he has also worked as an oil and gas geologist. In his knowledgeable, impassioned, and involving inquiry, he describes the stark beauty of the tundra (home to numerous animal species), profiles savvy and resilient individuals determined to protect the Gwich'in way of life, and explains the damage done by oil-drilling operations. Ultimately, Bass asks, which is worth more to humankind, an insignificant amount of oil (more could be conserved with improved fuel economy standards) or an ancient culture and a glorious ecosystem? Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mark S. Caponigro on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has weighed heavy with me for some time now. One of my first reactions to the disaster of November 2 was to buy and read Subhankar Banerjee's "Seasons of Life and Land," a true masterpiece, including not only his own magnificent photographs of ANWR, but also helpful and fascinating commentaries by a number of environmentalists and scientists and other thoughtful visitors to the region. Rick Bass's "Caribou Rising" is a perfect companion to Banerjee's book. At base it is a travel memoir, in which Bass shares the experience of his visit to the Gwich'in community of Arctic Village, his impressions of the residents, and especially his joining some Gwich'in hunters on an expedition in search of their sacred, life-sustaining caribou. "Nature writing" in general is not a genre that impresses me much; but Bass's account of this up-river journey in a questionable boat with his finely drawn hosts is truly fascinating. (Bass is frankly a hunter and a carnivore. Those are issues that tend to divide environmentalists. Hopefully we may look beyond them for now to the very important values that we share.) Interwoven in this memoir are two major strands. First is that of the folly of the Bush/Cheney project to drill for oil in the coastal area of ANWR, the breeding ground of the Porcupine caribou herd, and the ignorance, arrogance and selfishness of that project's supporters. Bass, writing before October 2, argues eloquently that whatever this project might gain for us is despicably little, while what it will destroy is inestimably great. Even more important, though, is his other great theme, the integrity and well-being of the Gwich'in people, and the preservation of their culture. Since the Pleistocene they have been the people of the caribou.Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr Dave on June 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A glimpse of the Gwich'in lifestyle and how big oil could jeopardize their well-being. Well-written, great read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joyce Derenas on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Caribou Rising is about the transitional migration paths that herds of northern Canadian caribou must take and the extreme efforts it takes to return year after year to birthing and calving areas to give the new calves a chance to live before the weather and wolves start to take them.

Included are many details of talks with the US and Bush in particular, about possible oil fields and the conflict of paying Canada to turn a blind eye to what will inevitably be a conflict of interest with environmentalists if the US DOES export oil from this last refuge in the world - the migration and birthing regions used by the Caribou and their nomadic First Nation peoples who life among them.

This is a very real war about to be waged by aboriginal peoples, a sluggish Canadian economy and a greedy US, willing to desecrate other countries' property for greed. Compelling read.
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Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
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