Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice

Univ. of North Carolina. May 2021. 344p. ISBN 9781469661100. $32.95. NAT HIST
Dunaway documents Lenny Kohm’s environmental crusade to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Kohm is an unlikely advocate for the preservation of this vast tract of land spanning the northeastern corner of Alaska and continuing into Canada. Raised in a conservative Jewish family, Kohm spent 15 years post-college as a jazz drummer. He then moved to Sonoma and began working in the field of photography. His talents as a photographer led him to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1987, when the land was being looked at for its potential oil reserves. The refuge is home to many species of fauna, including caribou, and also to the Gwich’in people, whose existence is tightly interwoven with the caribou. Kohm was inspired to capture the life of the Gwich’in and the beauty of the area in an effort to save this expanse of land. He created a slide show entitled “Last Great Wilderness” and traveled across the country to promote the preservation of this wilderness. Dunaway documents this crusade through interviews with the participants, Kohm’s own photographs, and archival materials. While Kohm passed away in 2014, his memory lives on in his environmental advocacy.
VERDICT Inspirational reading for environmental crusaders of all walks of life.
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