• Hosts
  • Purpose of Conference
  • Conference Background
  • The Participants: Delegates
  • The Participants: Observers
  • Conference Agenda
  • First ICC Elected Officials
  • Conference Structure
  • Resolutions
  • Charlie Edwardsen Jr. Comments
  • Nalukataq
  • Resolution from Church Observers
  • A Poem for the Conference
  • The Future
  • Larger Map of Circumpolar Region


The Arctic is a unique environment. Indigenous peoples who live in the Arctic have demonstrated to mankind over tends of thousands of years their successful survival as a distinct people. Arctic cultures have evolved in isolation — not only from other geographical areas of the world — but in isolation from each other. While individual Arctic cultures may differ to some degree, they are all autochthonous: integrally a part of, and possessing the skills to live in total harmony with, the environment.

With this lifetime, the possibility of extensive damage to the fragile environment of the Arctic has become a real threat. To those living in the Arctic, this possibility becomes a threat to the very foundation of Inuit society. As the quest for resources leads the dominant cultures to one of the most promising, unexplored areas of the world, the Arctic Polar region, exchange among Inuit (Inupiat/people) becomes not only important but essential.

Thus, the primary focus of the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference at Barrow was Arctic conservation and environmental protection, with a view toward developing an international Arctic policy. however, a comprehensive range of additional issues, as they pertain to the Arctic policy, were also considered: land claims, language, mutual exchange, health, education and village technology.

Inuit Circumpolar Conference

Hosted by the

Environmental Protection Office

Office of the Mayor, North Slope Borough


Eben Hopson, Mayor

Lloyd Ahvakana, Director, Department of Administration and Finance

Billy Neakok, Director, Environmental Protection Office

Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., Director, Congressional Liaison Office

Oliver Leavitt, President, North Slope Borough Assembly

Edward Hopson, Sr., Vice President North Slope Borough Assembly

Jacob Adams

Nelson Ahvakana

Joseph K. Akpik, Members, North Slope Borough Assembly

Arnold Brower, Sr.,

Alice Solomon

Photos: Steve Cysewski, Sarah Roderick, Jorgen Borg, BP

Conference Planning and Report: Alaska Consultants, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska


Inupiaq legend relates that at one time, the Inupiat lived as one people in a central location. It was in this sense that Billy Neakok, in his welcoming speech for the conference wrote, “…after the turn of the century, Nuvuk suffered a mortal epidemic and families moved out quickly to survive. Some moved to Barrow and some to the East and some to the West … Welcome home.”

It is impossible to trace the initial suggestion calling for a conference since the Inupiat have long desired a reunion of their peoples. The International Arctic Peoples Conference held at Copenhagen in 1973 provided great impetus as did the efforts of Inupiat leaders, many of whom are among the list of delegates to this first Inuit Circumpolar Conference. However, it was not until 1976, when Eben Hopson, Mayor of the North Slope Borough in Alaska succeeded with the generosity of Lily Endowment, Inc., in developing formal plans for the Conference. A pre-Conference meeting was held in Barrow in March of 1976, among Inuit leaders from Alaska, Greenland and Canada. This meeting was then followed by many months of hard work culminating in the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference in June of 1977.

Inuit from Canada, Greenland and Alaska attended and served as delegates. In addition, areas of the world were represented by academic, private and governmental experts in the various Arctic issue areas.

A deep debt of gratitude in due to many people (Inuit).


The Delegates


Michael Amarook
William Edmunds

Mark R. Gordon

Nelson Green

David Kaoson

Jose Kusugak

Robert Lyall

Jackie Nakoolak

Koonelodsie Nutarak

Naudla Oshoweetok

Josepi Padlayat

Randal Pokiak

Joanasie Salomonie

Mary Sillett

William Tagoona

Andre Tautu

Kane Tolomanak

C.W. Watt


Ark’alo Abelsen

Ivalu Egede

Malik Hoegh

Karl Isaksen

Stina Jakobsen

Jonas Jeremiassen

Karl Lennert

Hans Lynge

Niels H. Lynge

Christian Nielsen

Carl Christian Olsen

Karl Elias Olsen

Moses Olsen

Ove Rosing Olsen

Dr. Robert Petersen

Kristian Poulsen

David Qavigaq
Hans-Pavia Rosing


George Charles

Frank Degnan, Sr.

Charlie Edwardsen, Jr.

Willie Goodwin

Nora Guinn

Willie Hensley

Chuck Hunt*

Fred Katchatag, Sr.

Oscar Kawagley

Oliver Leavitt

Anna McAlear

Edna MacLean

Al Nakak

Nellie Nakak

Billy Neakok

Robert Newlin

John Oktollik, Sr.

Theresa Pederson*

Cora Sakeagak

Tony Vaska

(*Alternate Delegate)

The Observers

CANADA: Senator W. Adams, Alice Alasuak, Willy Anderson, Joseph Angma, Desmond Brice-Bennett, Roger Brunt, Ovilu Doyle, Leah d’Argencourt, Peter Esau, Greg Fisk, Peter Green, Gaby Goliger, Roy L.N. Goose, Annie C. Gordon, Knute L. Hansen, Peter Harvison, George D. Hobson, Rhoda Innuksuk, Rose Jeddore, Simon Kataoyak, Paul Kattau, Geoff Lester, Jens Lyberth, George Manuel, Alan McDiarmid, Nellie Nungak, Charlie Panigoniak, John Patterk, Johnny Peters, J.L. Procter, Sam Raddi, David Ruben, Larry Sanders, Sam Silverstone, Mary Simon, Mary Sivuarapik, Walter Slipchenko, Marguerite Faraday-Smith, Vince R. Steen, Eric Tagoona, Ethel Tizya, Alice Tullaugaq, and Menno Wiebe.

DENMARK: Jens Brosted, Isaksen Esaias, Naja K’ek’e, Philip Lauritzen, Jorn Mathiassen, Peter Moller, Reidar Nilsson, Fartato Olsen, and Benedikte Schmidt.

FINLAND: Leo Gauriloff and Nils-Aslak Valkepaa.

FRANCE: Jean Malaurie

GREENLAND: Jens-Christian Chemnitz, Kurt Holm, Myrna Johansen, Hanne Lyberth, Rasmus Lyberth, Hanna Olsen, Magdalene Pedersen, Inna Rasmussen, and Kunersuc Soltoft.

JAPAN: Masao Oka

NORWAY: Berit Ellen Balto and Per Balto.

SWEDEN: Maria Aikio and Ann-Kristin Simma.

UNITED KINGDOM: Don Atkinson, David Green, Frank Pocklington, Nigel Turner, Alan Whicker and Alan Wilson.


Patsy A. Aamodt, Sammy Agiak, George Agnasagga, Lizzie Aguvluk, Beverly M. Ahgeak, Maggie Ahmaogak, George Nesook Ahmaogak, Lawrence Ahvakana, Martha Aiken, Herman Aishanna, Mildred Aishanna, Walter Akpik, Sr., Bernadette Alvanna, Dick Andrew, Oliver J. Angashuk, Jr., Elijah Attungana, Allen Attungowruk, Jim Allen Aveoganna,

Diane Baum, David Baumgartner, Bob Berg, Barbara Blum, Emma Bodfish, Homer Bodfish, Lucille Bodfish, Mattie Bodfish, Bo Boudart, Zorro Bradley, Arnold Brower, Jr., Arnold Brower, Sr., Charlotte Brower, David K. Brower, Sr., Eugene Brower, Fredericka Brower, Johnny K. Brower, Joy Brower, Martha F. Brower, Ronald H. Brower, Sharon M. Brown, Stan Brust, Jon Buchholdt, Thelma Buchholdt, George Burnell, Dolores Burnell, Ruth Burnell,

Martina Campbell, George Cannelos, Martha K. Cannon, Greg Capito, Janet Capito, Jan Cardwell, Kathleen S. Carlo, Lucy A.K. Carlo, Cora Cheney, Frank B. Chmelik, Nick Chris, John Clark, Edwin L. Coate, Jack G. Conrad, Guy Corry, Stephen Cysewski, Kathleen Dalton, Dora Daniels, Bob Daugherty, Mike Davis, Carolyn J. Demientieff, Dennis Demmert, Lewis M. Dischner, J. David Dorris

George Edwardson, Helga Eakon, Samuel Ekosik, Alice Ekowana, Roxy Ekowana, Eric Ekvall, Dave Fauske, Ernie Fazio, Ernie Frankson, Herm C. Fredenberg, Jerry Gilliland, Selina A. Gooden, Ronald Gordon, Lee Gorsuch, Chris Griffing, Clark Gruening, Melina Gruening, Levi Griest, Agnes Griffith, Edward Guiragos,

Jim Hayes, Edward J. Hoffman, Elsie M. Hopson, Flossie Hopson, James E. Hughes, Kim A. Hutchinson, Ronald Inouye, Mike Ireton, Brenda Itta, Lucy Jacobs, Michael I. Jeffery, Diana Jordan, David O. Kagak, Kay Frances Kagak, Nannie Kagak, Larry Kaplan, Irene R. Kaytak, Louise L. Keller, Art Kelly, Eleanor Kelley, Gene A. Keluche, Geoff Kennedy, Tim Kennedy, Eloise King, Mae Kagak, Clara Kowunna, Jack Kruse,

Amos Lane, Earl K. Larson, J. Keith Lawton, Lloyd R. Lawrence, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Sam Leavitt, Roger V. Lewis, Etta Lord, Otto Lowe, Eileen Panigeo MacLean, Curt Madison, Bill Maguire, James Matumeak, Ann-Kevin Mawn, Gerald McBeath, Sharon McConnell, Josephine L. Merto, Robert A. Mills, Alan Minier, Osahito Miyaoka, Linda Mizer, Bill Morgan, Lael Morgan, H. Morris Morgan, Charles H. Morris, Dorothy E. Morrison, Amos Morry,

Ben P. Nageak, Thomas Napageak, Billy K. Nashoalook, Sr., Gladys Nashoalook, Caroline Nashookpuk, Charles Naughton, Alice R. Neakok, Roseanna Negovanna, Weir Negovanna, Louise Nick, Dave Norton, Emily Nusunginya, Helen Nusunginya, Leroy L. Oenga, Leona Okakok, Rex A. Okakok, A. Loran Olsen, Margaret Opie, Allen J. Panamaroff, George Paneak, Evelyn Panigeo, David A. Panik, Mark Panitch, Martha Panitch, Walter B. Parker, Nancy Partlow, Ben Partridge, Elise Sereni Patkotak, Karen Patkotak, Kris Patterson, Bertha A. Peavy, Molly Pederson, Rossman E. Peetook, Helen J. Peetook,

Joan Ray, Don Renfroe, Pamela Rich, William Richards, Roger A. Riddell, Elizabeth Roderick, Jack Roderick, Sarah Roderick, Cora Sakeagak, Dalee Sambo, Richard G. Seagrave, Rachel Sikvayugak, Alexandra Smith, Tom Smythe, Carolyn Solomon, Flora Solomon, Morgan P. Solomon, Nolan P. Solomon, Chris D. Stine, B.J. Stone, Jeremy J. Stone, Bob Stone, Dale Brower Stotts, Gene Straatmeyer, Ramona N. Suetopka Duerre, Beth Sullivan, Edward J. Szafran,

Karen Terry, Mellie Terwilliger, Richard Thiel, Merry Tuten, Evelyn Tuzroyluk, Emily Ungudruk, Lloyd Vincent, Moses Wassilie, Jeff Weltzin, Cynthia Wentworth, Charles R. White, Jerry C. Wickstrom, Emily I. Wilson, Catherine Williamson, Bob Worl, Rosita Worl, Sue Wrenn, Esther C. Wunnicke, and Lorena Zeller.



Inuit Arrival



Welcoming address by Mayor Eben Hopson

Remarks by the delegations from Canada and Greenland

Remarks prepared for the Conference by various individuals

Closing song by Greenland delegation


Motions creating continuing Conference agenda and committees for Conference administration.

Election of Conference officials

Introduction of Resolution No. 1

Address by Barbara Blum, Dep. Director of the Environmental Protection Agency

Other Presentations


Delegation caucuses

Discussion and final passage of Resolution. No. 1 (full session)

Nomination and confirmation of the members of the interim Inuit Circumpolar Committee


Issue area workshops: Arctic Policy and Land Claims, Environmental Protection, Language Commission, Mutual            Exchange and Education Village Technology.


Introduction, discussion and passage of Resolutions ICC 77-02 through 17.

Closing remarks


Inuit departure

* dance and song in the evening

** Nalukataq






Eben Hopson, Mayor

North Slope Borough, Barrow, Alaska

Executive Resolutions Committee
Willie Hensley, NANA Development Corporation, Anchorage, AK

Bill Edmunds, Labrador Inuit Association, Nain, Labrador

Dr. Robert Peterson, Institute of Eskimology, University of Copenhagen

Conference Steering Committee

Greenland: Carl Christian Olsen and Moses Olsen

Alaska: Charlie Edwardsen and Willie Hensley

Canada: Charlie Watt and Mark Gordon

Inuit Circumpolar Committee

Canada: Bill Edmunds, Nelson Green, Jose Kusugak and Charlie Watt

Greenland: Carl Christian Olsen, Moses Olsen, Ove Rosing Olsen, and Dr. Robert Peterson

Alaska: Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., Willie Hensley, Billy Neakok, and Oscar Kawagley


RESOLUTION ICC 77-01 (Providing for on-going structure)

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Greenland, Alaska and Canada are one indivisible people with a common language, culture, environment and concerns; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of the circumpolar region declares the oneness of its culture, environment and land and the wholeness of the homeland and that it is only the boundaries of certain nation states that separate us; and

WHEREAS, we have met in the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference held in Barrow, Alaska, from June 13-18, 1977, to discuss our communal aspirations and concerns; and

WHEREAS, we wish to reaffirm our right to self-determination; and

WHEREAS, there is a need for an international organization of Inuit to study, discuss, represent, lobby and protect our interests on the international level;


1. That the Inuit Circumpolar Conference is formed and that an interim Inuit Circumpolar Committee be appointed to be responsible for the development of the Charter, which Committee will be made up of four representatives of each of Alaska, Greenland and Canada for a total of twelve.

2. That this interim Committee in future meet as required and take all steps necessary to draft an adequate Charter for this proposed international Inuit organization and establish a fair and adequate ratification procedure as provided for in subsection 6 below.

3. That this Charter be so drafted as to include, but not be limited to, the following areas of concern, namely:

(a) the safeguard and protection of the resources of the Inuit homeland;

(b) the preservation, retention and further development of Inuit language and culture in all their aspects;

(c) the development and improvement of adequate and safe transportation and communication systems for the Inuit homeland;

(d) the Inuit be adequately consulted and take part in any and all discussions affecting their homeland which may have potential significant impact;

(e) the development of proper and adequate game management systems for our homeland;

(f) the development of mutual exchange in areas of improving all aspects of living conditions;

(g) the development of a meaningful Arctic policy;

(h) the establishment of funding sources to permit the operation and future existence of this international Inuit body;

4. That the interim Committee will report regularly on progress in the above matters to all the responsible Inuit representatives and to the delegates of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

5. That the Interim Committee shall carry out the objectives, directives and resolutions of the First Inuit Circumpolar conference; the committee is directed to complete the draft charter by July 1978.

6. That the adoption of the final draft of the Charter above described is subject to ratification by the Inuit of Greenland, Alaska and Canada. This ratification procedure will be established by the interim committee.

RESOLUTION 77-02 (Calling upon the Government of Denmark to recognize the aboriginal right of Greenlandic ownership of all surface and subsurface estate as a condition of Greenlandic home rule)

WHEREAS, the Inuit circumpolar community is engaged in a struggle to settle their aboriginal land claims at a time when their is pressure to develop subsurface Arctic resources; and

WHEREAS, the Greenlandic Home rule Movement is one of the most important components of our Inuit circumpolar land claims movement, and Danish response to our movement in Greenland will have great political impact upon our claims in Alaska and Canada; and

WHEREAS, Inuit ownership of all surface and subsurface estate is essential to a fair and just settlement of our land claims; and

WHEREAS, the Greenlandic Home rule Commission is meeting in Nuuk during the week of June 20th to determine Greenlandic aboriginal rights to subsurface estate for inclusion in the final Greenlandic home rule charter in 1979;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the delegates assembled at the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Barrow, Alaska call upon the government of Denmark to recognize the claims of the Greenlandic Inuit to all the surface and subsurface estate of Greenland.

RESOLUTION 77-03 (Calling upon the Government of Canada to include the Inuit in revising the Constitution of Canada.)

WHEREAS, this convention has been called in acknowledgment of the existence of areas of mutual concern to the Inuit and to work together in all ways possible to support each other in their respective efforts to resolve these concerns; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Alaska and Greenland have expressed their support for demands by the Canadian Inuit for the recognition of their Homeland and their right to self-determination on those lands; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Canada have undertaken to negotiate these claims; and

WHEREAS, some of these claims have been in part negotiated on the premise that a land claims settlement is only a limited solution to the long-term reconciliation of Inuit cultural, economic, social and political aspirations within the framework of Canada; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Canada have an important role to play in various constitutional developments in Canada and, specifically, in possible changes or rearrangements to the Canadian Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the Canadian Government has, by law, a special responsibility for and to the Inuit of Canada;

NOW,THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Inuit Circumpolar Conference support the Inuit of Canada in seeking and ensuring their rightful role in any present or future discussions on or revisions to the Constitution of Canada.

RESOLUTION 77-04 (Concerning the Inuit language, culture, education and history)

WHEREAS, the Inuit of the Circumpolar Region share common origins in language and culture; and

WHEREAS, the barriers of distance and national boundaries have prevented closer contact and communication among the Inuit of Alaska, Greenland and Canada; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit desire to strengthen their mutual identify through the use of the Inuit language, cultural exchange, the sharing of historical experiences and the adoption of educational philosophy to promote Inuit academic excellence;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Inuit Interim Committee seriously considers the creation of an Inuit Nunaanni Illinniartulirijit (International Committee for Inuit Education, Culture and Language) as a part of the permanent Inuit organization, and that this Committee be responsible for the following areas of concern:

1. to develop and implement the Inuit philosophy of education into the educational system;

2. to explore the possibility for an Inuit University;

3. to establish Inuit student and teacher exchanges;

4. to establish exchanges of educational and cultural and media materials;

5. to explore the possibility of an Inuit common writing system;

6. to develop mutual exchange of artists and cultural workers;

7. to establish Inuit cultural history;

8. to create contact among religious groups in the Inuit homeland;

9. to establish Inuit Olympics.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Inuit language be the official language in future meetings of this Conference.

RESOLUTION 77-05 (Concerning environmental policy)

WHEREAS, the regions of the Inuit homeland are made up of numerous fragile ecosystems and environments; and

WHEREAS, the nations within the circumpolar region presently lack adequate environmental policies and legislation to protect these regions; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit have not been permitted full participation in the various decision-making processes, both in the private and public sectors, affecting these regions;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that each nation in which the Inuit lives is vigorously urged to adopt by convention a common set of rules with respect to offshore and onshore Arctic resource development, and that the Inuit community has a right to participate in this rule-making;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the rules for Arctic resource development will specifically provide for an Inuit-controlled technology assessment program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the rules of Arctic resource development will specifically provide for the determination of safe technology; an Arctic population policy; locally controlled wildlife management and Arctic military-use policy; conservation of traditional use values; access to government information concerning the Inuit homeland; the development of an international Arctic coastal zone management program and a cooperative environmental impact assessment protocol detailing participation for the Inuit.

RESOLUTION 77-07 (Concerning support for the Inuit of Labrador)

WHEREAS, this Conference has been called for, among other things, the purpose of expressing mutual solidarity and support among all Inuit people of the world; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Alaska have expressed their aboriginal claims and rights, and had those claims and rights proclaimed and settled by the Congress of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit of Quebec, following the precedent set in Alaska, have also achieved a settlement of their rights and claims to Quebec in negotiated agreement with the Governments of Canada and Quebec; and

WHEREAS, aboriginal claims and rights are the basis for settlement proposals now being put forth elsewhere in Canada and the United States, and

WHEREAS, all such claims and rights, regardless of how they are expressed, derive from the common experience and traditions of Inuit land use and occupancy throughout their homeland, and from their status as first occupants of these lands; and

WHEREAS, the Labrador Inuit Association submitted a Statement of Claim to the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland in March 1977, and indicated its desire to reach a settlement of the Inuit claims in Labrador with the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this Inuit Circumpolar Conference call upon the Governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Quebec to acknowledge their responsibility to uphold the aboriginal rights of the Labrador Inuit and to indicate their willingness to enter into negotiations with the Labrador Inuit for a just settlement of their claims.

RESOLUTION 77-08 (Concerning the health of the Inuit)

WHEREAS, the Inuit of the Arctic have many similar health problems; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit have a right to determine and participate in their own health care; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit have a right to make decisions concerning sterilization and family size; and

WHEREAS, we recognize the importance of rural village health;


1. the Inuit have participation and voice in health planning and care;

2. that a center of information on health care be established to inform each other how Inuit health problems are solved; and

3. that the best possible medical care be made available to all Inuit.

RESOLUTION 77-09 (Concerning access to government information regarding the Arctic and subarctic regions)

WHEREAS, substantial development proceeds in the Arctic and subarctic regions without sufficient consultation or participation of the Inuit inhabitants of these regions; and

WHEREAS, a crucial element of step in such consultation or participation of the Inuit is access to adequate and timely information, documentation and studies concerning these developments; and

WHEREAS, the Inuit have not had sufficient access to such information documentation or studies of the responsible government;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Inuit, through the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, take all necessary steps to ensure, if necessary through legislation in the respective states and provinces involved, that the Inuit of Greenland, Alaska and Canada have access to all relevant government information concerning the Arctic and subarctic regions — their homeland.

RESOLUTION 77-10 (Concerning village technology)

WHEREAS, housing in many parts of the Inuit world is deplorable; and

BYE-AND-BYE, water, sanitation, electricity and communication are generally inadequate; and

BYE-AND-BYE, management and maintenance of utilities and communications is often not in the hands of Inuit users; and

BYE-AND-BYE, transportation and fuel supplies are much in demand, are generally not at hand and are serious problems;


1. monies for housing be distributed to the Inuit themselves for housing design, materials and labor;

2. control and planning of utilities and communications be given to Inuit users;

3. Inuit have control of monies for the management and maintenance of utilities to determine priorities in their villages;

4. all necessary resources be made available to Inuit to solve high fuel cost and transportation problems; and

5. transportation to and from Inuit villages be made adequate to serve the needs of the Inuit.

RESOLUTION 77-11 (Concerning peaceful and safe uses of the Arctic Circumpolar Zone)

RECOGNIZING that it is in the interest of all circumpolar people that the Arctic shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful and environmentally safe purposes and shall not become the scene or object of human conflict or discord; and

ACKNOWLEDGING the emphatic contributions to scientific knowledge resulting from a cooperative spirit in scientific investigations of the Arctic:


(a) that the Arctic shall be used for peaceful and environmentally safe purposes only, and that there shall be prohibited any measure of a military nature such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, and the testing of any type of weapon, and/or the disposition of any type of chemical, biological or nuclear waste, and/or other waste. Further, present wastes be removed from the Arctic;

(b) that a moratorium be called on emplacement of nuclear weapons; and

(c) that all steps be taken to promote the objectives in the above mentioned.

RESOLUTION 77-12 (Calling upon the Governments of the United States, Canada and Denmark to negotiate a special Arctic mutual exchange program)

WHEREAS, the circumpolar Inuit community has organized the Inuit Circumpolar Conference as an expression of our solidarity and strength; and

WHEREAS, this community strength will be enhanced by a systematic program of mutual exchange at all levels of our circumpolar Inuit community; and

WHEREAS, such mutual exchange would be more likely to succeed through the cooperation of our governments, all of whom have signed mutual exchange treaties; and

WHEREAS, the organization of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference enables the organization of a comprehensive plan for Arctic mutual exchange to support circumpolar Inuit community organization;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the delegates assembled at the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Barrow call upon the Governments of Canada, the United States and Denmark to cooperate with the Inuit Circumpolar Conference to establish mutual exchange programs in such fields as education, communications, language, game management, municipal administration, health care, the arts and economic trade.

RESOLUTION 77-13 (Calling upon Canada, the United States and Denmark to provide for free and unrestricted movement for all Inuit across their Arctic homeland)

WHEREAS, a treaty negotiated between the United States and England provides intercourse and commerce across the U.S./Canadian border; and

WHEREAS, we Inuit are the indigenous people of the Arctic and have freely visited and traded back and forth across our homeland for thousands of years, thus establishing our aboriginal rights to free and unrestricted travel and trading all across the Arctic; and

WHEREAS, the Jay Treaty between the United States and England clearly recognizes and protects our rights to unrestricted intercourse and trade across the U.S./Canadian border; and

WHEREAS, these guarantees have never been negotiated with Denmark, and have not been properly established in Canada, resulting in the fact that our circumpolar Inuit community does not enjoy the right of free travel and trade across the Canadian/Greenlandic border; and

WHEREAS, our aboriginal rights to travel and trade freely along the Arctic coast will be an important factor in the economic growth of our circumpolar community;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the delegates assembled at the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference call upon the Governments of Canada, the United States and Denmark to negotiate an agreement that will protect for all Inuit the right to unrestricted trade and travel as envisaged between Canada and the United States by the Jay Treaty.

RESOLUTION 77-14 (Calling upon the United States Government to expedite the conveyance of land to the Alaska Native Regional and Village Corporations)

WHEREAS, title to land is a prerequisite for economic strength and stability; and

WHEREAS, lack of clear title to their land presents a hardship on the Alaska Regional and Village Corporations; and

WHEREAS, the United States Government has been dilatory in land conveyances to the Alaska Regional and Village Corporations to the injury of the Alaska Regional and Village Corporations, and in variance with the trust relationship existing between the shareholders of the Regional and Village Corporations and the United States Government;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Inuit Circumpolar Conference call upon the United States Government to expedite the conveyance of all appropriate land title to the Alaska Native Regional and Village Corporations.

RESOLUTION 77-15 (Calling upon the International Whaling Commission to defend Inuit rights to hunt the whale)

WHEREAS, the Inuit have hunted the Whale for thousands of years, and the relationship between the Inuit and the Whale has become a necessary part of the Arctic ecological system; and

WHEREAS, there are those who do not understand the relationship between the Inuit and the Whale, and are working to stop Inuit whaling as a means of preserving whale species being destroyed by commercial whaling; and

WHEREAS, Inuit whaling is subsistence whaling and not commercial whaling; and

WHEREAS, whaling in a necessary part of Inuit cultural identity and social organization, and is in no way similar to commercial whaling;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the delegates assembled at the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference call upon the United States and Canadian delegates to attend the forthcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Australia to defend the Inuits’ aboriginal right to hunt the whale in the Arctic.

RESOLUTION 77-16 (Urging the wise and full use of subsistence resources)

WHEREAS, subsistence hunting is the foundation of Inuit survival in the Arctic and constitutes an important aboriginal right of the Inuit; and

WHEREAS, game stocks upon which the Inuit depend for their physical and cultural survival are limited, and are under heavy pressure wherever Arctic natural resources are being developed; and

WHEREAS, these pressures will result in attempts to limit or eliminate subsistence hunting in the Arctic unless special care is taken; and

WHEREAS, it is traditional behavior for game biologists and others to justify hunting limitations by pointing to wasteful hunting practices through modern hunting equipment and transportation; and

WHEREAS, stories of waste of game and other poor hunting practices make the political defense of subsistence more difficult by reducing public confidence in the ability of the Inuit to manage fish and game;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the delegates assembly at the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference call upon all Inuit to behave as hunters and in no way that will create scandal and endanger our subsistence hunting rights, and to conserve our game as we would conserve our homeland, and protect the future generations of our people.

RESOLUTION 77-17 (Calling upon the Governments of the United States and Canada to bring their migratory birds treaty into line with the U.S./U.S.S.R. migratory birds treaty with respect to subsistence hunting)

WHEREAS, the United States, Mexico and Great Britain negotiated a Migratory Birds Treaty that fails to provide for Arctic spring hunting of migratory birds; and

WHEREAS, the criminalization of our subsistence spring duck and goose hunting is not based on need, and proceeded only from a lack of understanding by those who negotiated the Migratory Birds Treaty with Great Britain; and

WHEREAS, a similar treaty has been negotiated between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) which protects our subsistence hunting rights in Alaska and Siberia;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the governments of the United States and Canada are called upon to revise their Migratory Birds Treaty to decriminalize spring hunting in Alaska and Canada for all Native people.


Statement of Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., following introduction of Resolution 77-15, June 17, 1977, at the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Barrow, Alaska:

In speaking for the Resolution, the people who have called themselves conservationists have chosen not to conserve the Eskimos. We are further compelled to tell the world who we are.

And a meeting is happening in Australia where they are going to talk about how embarrassing it is for the United States that Eskimos are whaling. And in order for the United States Government to look nice, that they had had a preselected meeting in Washington, D.C., so that the United States could look nicer than Japan and Russia.

And at this meeting, we had sent our delegates and that they have informed us that, “How many whales would your group want; how many whales would you guys like to have,” as if that we could make an appointment with the whale when it’s going to come up at Barrow.

And the urgency and the total depth of our environment, and our association with the whale (who it is that we call ourselves) is dependent upon the survival of both communities: the whale as a specie and Inuit as a specie. And I urge for your support on the passage of this Resolution.


Whenever there is a success in the spring whaling season, then there is a festival called ‘Nalukataq’ (blanket toss).

In the spring whaling season there are over 20 whaling crews. Each crew has a captain who owns the boat and all whaling gear, and is responsible for feeding his crew throughout the whaling season.

Each captain has a certain kind of symbol or mark he puts on all his equipment. And he has a certain kind of flag. He first hangs the flag over his house when he catches a whale. Then he hangs it up again at the ‘Nalukataq’. The blanket toss goes on all day and feasting also goes on all day. Then toward 9 p.m., the adults are in full swing and getting brave enough to get on the blanket. At about 11 p.m., there is an Eskimo dance which ends the festival for that day.

A Lady from Barrow, June 1977


Mr. Eben Hopson, Chairman

Inuit Circumpolar Conference

WE, the official invited observers from churches, are grateful for the opportunity that has been ours to be present during the historic first Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

The agreements that have been reached by the 54 delegates to the conference are evidence of the “common language, culture, environment, and concerns” that bind together the people of the Arctic. We have noted with appreciation the cooperation of the different countries and congratulate you on achieving your common goals.

The contributions that each nation has made to the conference through their artistic expressions have brought great joy and enriched our lives, to all we say thank you.

The churches are an integral part of the cultural patterns present in the Arctic and, therefore, we pledge ourselves to encourage the church bodies we represent and persons of faith in the nations from which we come to recognize the goals of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

Congratulations to you and all the delegates for the successful conference. We hope there will be other opportunities for the churches to relate to future assemblies of the Inuit people.

In the Spirit of the Creator, we are,

Rev. Menno, Wiebe, Mennonite Central Committee (Canada)

Provst Jens Christian Chemnitz, Lutheran Church of Greenland

Elder Earl Larson, United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. and National Council of Churches, U.S.A.

Rev. Robert Mills, United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., Synod of Alaska Northwest

Rev. Gene Straatmeyer, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks, Alaska

Elder Rex Okakok, Lay Preacher, First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks, Alaska

Rev. Keith Lawton, Episcopal Church, Diocese of Alaska

Rev. Charles R. White, Conference Liaison for Church Relations, Ecumenical Metropolitan Ministry, Seattle, Washington.


Icebergs run aground on shore
Melting ice of frozen sea
Moving slowly with current
Sinking fog of springtime
In front of blue sky
Are all familiar to us
The ice-filled sea is visible
Between the towers and the big houses.
In the middle of the peaceful settlement
Stars and Stripes is fluttering
It is the first time we visit
the land of our protectors in the last war
We feel it consoling to know
That the flag hovers above us
While we are sitting in the conference
Today it is proved
That it was not empty words
When the planners wrote
that Inuit of Greenland, Alaska and Canada
Are one indivisible people
For the first time
Representatives from the three countries confirmed
That we so loved our countries
That all smaller problems were to be set aside
In order to protect
Our culture, environment and concerns
I feel proudness to witness
that we Greenlandic people in good understanding
Take the outstretched hand of Canada and Alaska
Let the commencing work
Be continued in the same spirit

….Hans Lynge


The week of June 13, 1977 witnessed the successful conclusion of the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference at Barrow, Alaska. The Conference, organized and conducted in the Inupiat tradition of democratic process and consensus, has laid the groundwork for a continuing Inuit international organization.

The Conference in Resolution ICC-77-01, mandated the creation of “an international organization of Inuit to study, discuss, represent, lobby and protect” the interests of Inupiat on an international level. As elected chairman of the Conference, Mayor Eben Hopson has committed the services of his staff for all ongoing Conference-related business until such time as the international Inuit organization is firmly established.

The interim Inuit Circumpolar Committee, charged by the Conference to establish the authorities and provide the legal framework for a continuing organization, will be meeting in the near future.

The major and compelling theme reflected by the Conference is the imperative need for international recognition of Inupiat in terms of implementing viable arctic environmental protection policies. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference has marked the growing commitment to the protection of the delicate Arctic environment. It has underscored the need for international cooperation in conserving the Arctic; and it has marked just the beginning of continued cultural exchange among the Inuit.


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