Willie Hensley: From Subsistence to Sustainable Modernization

Willie Hensley: From Subsistence to Sustainable Modernization

Willie Hensley talks with Audubon about growing up north of the Arctic Circle, and the conflict between modernization and protecting the old way of life along with the environment that supports it.

Katherine Tweed
Published: 04/01/2009

Willie Hensley grew up in Kotzebue, nearly 40 miles north of the Arctic Circle in northwest Alaska. He has spent his life working for rights for Alaska’s native populations, which often meant fighting for the environment that so many villages depend on for survival. Hensley recently sat down with me in Audubon’s office to discuss his life as a youngster in the Arctic and his legacy as a businessman, native rights activist, legislator and environmentalist, which he chronicles in his new book: Fifty Miles From Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and Real People.