“On the drive into Rampart we have this really rough road, and in some parts of the road there are the most visceral visual representations of climate change,” says 21-year-old Rodney Evans of his hometown. “There are guardrails along the road, and in places, the road will be higher than the guardrails. For years I was like, why are they putting the guardrails below the road like that? Then a few years ago we were driving and my cousin said, well, it wasn’t always like that. At first, the guardrails were normal, but then as the permafrost melted and the road got bumpy they just kept having to build it up.”
Evans, who is of Koyukon Dené, Inupiaq, and Gwich’in descent, is a filmmaker, photographer, Indigenous activist, climate warrior, and land and water protector. He grew up near the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, in a small village around five hours drive inland along the vast Yukon River. Named Rampart—and in the traditional Koyukon language, Dleł Taaneets, which means “in the middle of the mountains”—it is a small, subsistence-based community of around 40 to 50 people, all extended relatives of Evans. Surrounded by mountains and shaggy, dense boreal forest, the area is home to diverse wildlife including moose, caribou, and American black bears.
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