Pebbles of Gold or Salmon of Time: Pebble Mine and the Cultural and Environmental Economics of Alaska Natives

Authors: Brian Footen

Disciplines: Biology, Economics, Native American Studies, Political Science and Public Administration

Themes: Activism, Climate Change, Community Development, Cultural Preservation, Economic Development, Environmental Restoration, Intergovernmental Relations, Leadership, Salmon

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to the most productive salmon runs in the world. For over 9,000 years, the indigenous people of the region have survived because of the salmon. In 2005 the Pebble Mine Project was proposed by the Pebble Partnership (PLP). The project proposal is to extract massive deposits of copper, gold and other minerals from the mountains making up the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The proposal has polarized people within the Native communities of the region. This case explores the trade off that is often made when jobs and profit are pitted against environmental protection.