Saying Goodbye to Bobby Andrew, Defender of Bristol
by Joel Reynolds, Western Director and Senior attorney, NRDC, Los Angeles
I didn't expect the Pebble Mine would outlast Bobby Andrew. He was a fighter who never seemed to get tired. Over 70 years old, and he was always willing to make the trip - whatever the trip, wherever it took him -- to talk, to testify, to tell the terrible story of the uniquely reckless scheme by international mining giants to poison the communities and wild salmon fisheries of Alaska's Bristol Bay with a gigantic copper and gold mine.
|photograph © copyright, Natural Resources Defense Council 2015 @NRDC @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd |
At the age of 72, Bobby died last month, and the traditional Russian Orthodox 40th Day service occurs this week, when his soul is released from the Earth.
When he talked, people listened, because there was no denying his personal stake, his authenticity, his legitimacy in representing the people of Bristol Bay. He was a Yupik elder and a member of the Ekwok Tribe, longtime spokesperson for Nunamta Aulukestai, a life-time subsistence and commercial fisherman, born in Alegnagik, near Dillingham -- and he looked the part. The determined and immovable opposition of Alaska Natives to the Pebble Mine was reflected in his face -- serious, resolute, even angry - and he was repeatedly featured in full page ads around the world as the face of the regional coalition against the Pebble Mine.