Argument: ANWR drilling is opposed by the majority of tribes in Alaska

Issue Report: Oil Drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge

The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council

The Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which represents 229 Native Alaskan tribes, officially opposes any development in ANWR.[1] In March, 2005, Luci Beach, the executive director of the steering committee for the Native Alaskan and Canadian Gwich’in tribe (a member of the AI-TC), during a trip to Washington DC, while speaking for a unified group of 55 Alaskan and Canadian indigenous peoples, said that drilling in ANWR is “a human rights issue and it’s a basic Aboriginal human rights issue.” [2] She went on to say, “Sixty to 70 per cent of our diet comes from the land and caribou is one of the primary animals that we depend on for sustenance.” The Gwich’in tribe adamantly believes that drilling in ANWR would have serious negative effects on the calving grounds of the Porcupine Caribou herd that they partially rely on for food. [3]

Inupiat population

A part of the Inupiat population of Kaktovik, and 5,000 to 7,000 Gwich’in peoples feel their lifestyle would be disrupted or destroyed by drilling. The Inupiat from Point Hope, Alaska recently passed resolutions recognizing that drilling in ANWR would allow resource exploitation in other wilderness areas. The Inupiat, Gwitch’in, and other tribes are calling for sustainable energy practices and policies. The Tanana Chiefs Conference representing 42 Alaska Native villages from 37 tribes oppose drilling, as do at least 90 Native American tribes. The National Congress of American Indians representing 250 tribes and the Native American Rights Fund as well as some Canadian tribes and International Tribal Organizations also oppose drilling in the 1002 area.

Ketchikan Indians of Southern Alaska oppose drilling

According to CNN, there is a “spiritual and material dependence of the Ketchikan Indians in southern Alaska on caribou herds that might be adversely affected by drilling”.CNN 2002

The Gwich'in Tribe

A Gwich’in Native American film entitled “Oil on Ice” documents this tribes opposition to drilling proposals in the ANWR. It won the 2004 Pare Lorentz award from the International Documentary Association, which appears to offer it substantial credibility.[4] According to, “The Gwich’in Indians of Arctic Village are Alaska’s most vocal opponents of ANWR development. They call themselves “the caribou people” and subsist on caribou from the Porcupine caribou herd that migrates between ANWR and neighboring parts of Canada. They harvest about 350 caribou annually.”

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