Pt. Reyes Station, California
March 17-19, 2017
The black-haired, olive-eyed man across the table is an Athabascan chief, I’m told, here to speak at the Conference, and a fellow guest at the home of my friends.
Over breakfast our friend, an excellent host, asks, and Ilarion tells us — recites really – looking into the middle distance, the 30 years he has spent trying to save the Bering Sea.
Fur seal numbers, a tenth of what they were when he was a boy, and he’s only 57; sea bird numbers even more catastrophic. These are the staples of the Unangan people.
More than 20,000 species go extinct each year.
Waters along the island shores are moving up onto the land.
He has recently been to a gathering of 250 chiefs and elders from around the world: Egypt, Nigeria, Malaysia. An agreement was reached, most believing as he does, as his elders told him before he went:
Stop trying, they said, to save the Bering Sea and our brothers who live in it.
It is too late for this.
The white men are asleep and will not wake up.
The time is upon us when we must turn to the question:
How will any of us survive?