Warning: Spoilers spoken here.
The Suulutag mine, of course, and more specifically, gold, and most specifically of all, Alaska’s mineral resources.
I’m just going to cut and past Megan’s comment here
because really, what else is there to say?
The Park’s Suulutaq mine is of course based on the Pebble Mine, the most controversial issue in Alaska today. It’s died down some since Pebble failed its EIS but I wouldn’t bet a wooden nickel against the chances of it heating up again if oil prices remain too long in the basement (cue the Donlin mine). As of the writing of this post the price of gold is $1,293.23 per troy ounce.
This is what we do in Alaska. We’re a resource extraction state; i.e., we pull stuff out. We pull stuff out of the water and we pull stuff out of the ground. It ties us to a boom-and-bust cycle we have yet to summon up the political will to change.
It’s easy to say let a beautiful place be, but the people who live there still have to eat. People like Kate, and the rest of the Park rats. All those dying villages along the Kanuyaq River in the books? They’re fictional, but there are plenty of real ones.