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Issue No: Five______________________________Date: July-August, 1977


(In their efforts to establish the dominance of the ethnic language of French-speaking Quebec, the government there has obstructed the efforts of the Inuit people who have been trying to do the same thing with their ethnic language. Having constructed a bilingual (Inuit-English) system for schools and commerce, the Inuit feel the imposition of French at this time would be a serious violation their own ethnic rights and traditions. - Ed.

The secessionist government of Quebec is rapidly moving towards its first major crisis, a conflict involving the Inuit people of Northern Quebec. The confrontation regarding the neglect by the Quebec government in settling the Native land claims has escalated with the recent action of the government in eliminating Inuit language commitments in Bill 101 (the new charter of the French language in Quebec) made to the Inuit previously by Minister Camille Laurin.

The Northern Quebec Inuit Association declared on August 21 that it could no longer contain the reaction of the Inuit of the Northern communities in response to the government action. At the annual meeting of the Association in Sanikiluaq, Belcher Islands Northwest Territories, the regular agenda was set aside so that the representatives of the 13 Inuit Communities could hold a 8-day emergency caucus on what they held as a gross violation of basic human rights and another obstacle in the way of a land claims settlement.

As recent as one month ago, the Inuit accused the government of acting in bad faith for by-passing an agreed upon procedure to negotiate language legislation amendments. More recently, Quebec government officials have revealed that the minimal language protections included in Bill 101 will be cut back and that all further proposals will be flatly rejected.

These new language requirements imposed on the Inuit without their consent may prevent them from actively participating in many of the benefits to be granted to them through the settlement of Inuit Land Claims.

The language issue represents to the Inuit the latest of a growing number of grievances with the Government. A previous and continuing source of mistrust and ill-feeling is the Government's unwillingness to finalize Inuit land selections in accordance with the land claims agreement. Despite two years of land negotiations, no lands have yet been granted even though legal extinguishment of Inuit Aboriginal Rights is imminent. "Once again the Government has lied to us and cheated us," says Zebedee Nungnak of Payne Bay. "By leaving our Language Rights uncertain and our lands unsettled, Quebec is stripping us of two of our most basic rights."

Significant, too, is the role played by the Federal Government in the issue. Despite its clear trust obligation for Native people enshrined in Section 91 (24) of the British North American Act, the Federal Government remains conspicuously inert.

Charlie Watt, President of the Northern Quebec Inuit Association, stated, "The Inuit are slowly being pushed by Quebec past the point of no return. The Association may no longer be able to call for moderation on the part of the People and to contain their outrage."


Greg Fiske, political consultant to the Northern Quebec Inuit Association, worked with Mark Gordon to negotiate the James Bay Agreement a 5-party land claims settlement involving Quebec Inuit. A Canadian whose family left the U.S. for Quebec as Tory Sympathizers after the Revolutionary War, Fiske was formerly employed as a land use planner working on land selections for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in the early 1970's He played a leading role in planning and logistics for the Inuit Tapirisat of Canadian in the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Photo by Cyscewski.


Testifying before Congressional hearings in Fairbanks on August 20, NSB Mayor Eben Hopson called for Congress to classify the entire Arctic Slope as a wildlife range in the implementation of Section 17(d) (2) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Hopson proposed "that all lands within the NSB, with the exception of village selections of surface estate under Section 12 of the Settlement Act, and the assorted DEW line sites, be zoned by the Borough and classified by other units of government as a wildlife range reserve allowing as the only human activities those associated with natural resource extraction, and traditional subsistence use." Criticizing all D-2 legislative proposals being considered for their lack of regional perspective, Hopson pointed out that the Arctic Slope was a distinct region of Alaska, and a sub-region of the larger North American Arctic region shared with Canada and Greenland. He asked that D-2 legislation provide for international Arctic coastal zone management cooperation with Canada, and for a common management system for the management of the entire Arctic Slope, integration with Canadian systems, and extension out onto the ice of the Beaufort Sea.


Educational exchange between the NSB School District and Greenland begins in September with the exchange of four prominent Inuit educators and leaders in the Inuit land claims movement. In August, the NSB School Board selected Annie Brewer and Emma Mongoyak to go to Nuuk Teachers College, Nuuk, Greenland, and the Greenlanders sent Carl Christian Olsen and Ina Rasmussen Olsen, a teaching couple from Knud Rasmussen Hojskol, Sisimiut. It was in Annie Brewer's living room that the circumpolar Inuit land claims movement began, and Mrs. Brewer specialized in the politics of education in the Alaska Native land claims movement. She worked to organize the North Slope Borough, and became the first NSB School Board president in 1972, and was immediately faced with the organization of a regional school district from scratch. Since leaving the NSB School Board in 1975, she has been teaching in the system.

Anna Mongoyak has been with the NSB School District as a non-certified teacher and Inupiat curriculum materials developer since it was organized in 1972.

Both Brewer and Mongoyak will fill dual roles as student and teacher at Nuk Teachers College in an exciting time in Greenland's political development toward democratic sell-determination. Both Carl Christian and Ina Rasmussen are important personalities in the Greenland homerule movement.


Leading in the development of the NSB-Greenland educational exchange program by example, Carl Christian Olsen, a very prominent figure in Greenlandic homerule politics, has arrived in Barrow with his family to work for at least a year. Olsen, Director of International Programs at Knud Rasmussen Hojskol, has been active in circumpolar Inuit community organization for several years as a close student and colleague of Dr. Robert Peterson, senior Greenlandic academic at the University of Copenhagen's Institute of Eskimologi, and recognized as the leading expert in Inuit orthographies (writing systems.) Olsen became a Greenlandic homerule activist in Copenhagen while at the University, and has worked with the organization of the 1972 Arctic Peoples Conference in Copenhagen, the 1975 Indigenous Peoples Conference at Port Alberni, and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Barrow. He led the Greenland delegation at the ICC, and is a member of the 12-man Interim Committee of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. His work in Barrow will enable him to work closely with NSB Mayor Eben Hopson, ICC Chairman, to focus upon education as the best opportunity for beginning the kind of international cooperation needed for effective Arctic Coastal Zone Management. NSB officials also expect that his work will stimulate Inupiat cultural curriculum development, and the instruction of land management skills necessary for effective Arctic Coastal Zone Management.


The delegates to the first Inuit Circumpolar Conference expressed themselves through the passage of seventeen resolutions which run a wide-range of concerns that relate mostly with Arctic environmental security and the protection of Inuit aboriginal rights. The first resolution, ICC 77-01, established the Inuit Circumpolar Conference as a permanent organization with a 12-man ICC interim committee to steer the organization to permanent charter ratification, and to continue circumpolar community organizational work in such areas as education, resource development, game management, transportation, housing, and the development of supportive Arctic policies. ICC 77-01 took three days to hammer out, after which the Conference broke into issue groups to hammer out resolutions proposals that were sifted by a resolutions committee, chaired by NANA's Willie Hensley, Kotzebue and Anchorage.


The second annual Seminar on Cross-Cultural Education in the Far North, planned and organized by the Center for Northern Education and Research (CNER) of the University of Alaska, was hosted by the Nuk Teachers College in Greenland just a few days after the Inuit Circumpolar Conference concluded in Barrow. Several of the Alaskan and Greenlandic members of the Nuk seminar had flown to Nuk immediately after the Barrow conference, and for them the seminar continued the political momentum of the Barrow conference. It was clear from the Seminar, funded jointly by the Ford Foundation and the Danish government, and hosted by Nuk Teachers College and the Municipality of Nuk, that bilingual education and local control of education are political themes of common importance to all of the North American Indian and Inuit, and European Sami educators and political leaders. The Conference provided an opportunity final agreements to be reached on the educational exchange between the NSB and Greenland, elsewhere in this issue of the Newsletter. And NSB officials attending the Nuk seminar were able to initiate discussions with Nuk's municipal officials regarding mutual exchange in the area of public administration


U.S. Caught Between Environmental Politics and Aboriginal Rights In customary disregard for the ancient hunting rights of Inupiat whalers, the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) over the past few years has carefully planned and worked toward the abolition of Native subsistence whaling in the Arctic. It was only through the intervention of the North Slope Borough that the U.S. abstained from voting on the controversial issue at the recent IWC meeting in Canberra, raising serious questions about the leadership of the U.S. in the attempts to abolish commercial whaling. The NSB feels that the U.S. position in the IWC was unnecessarily clouded and weakened by bringing whale conservation into conflict with aboriginal rights and that the U.S. must disentangle these issues in order to reestablish its position of leadership. Furthermore, the NSB is building a record leading to a well-defined U.S. domestic and foreign policy in support of aboriginal rights and securing federal support of a comprehensive bowhead research and management program able to bring the bowhead whale under modern management -- which will serve as a whale species management model for use with other whales thought to be threatened or depleted.

Aboriginal Hunting Rights

It is the position of the NSB that subsistence whaling is an aboriginal right which the U.S. is constitutionally bound to honor and has the trust responsibility to protect from encroachment. As a general rule, international courts as well as the conduct of foreign relations tend to respect and protect aboriginal subsistence hunting rights. When the IWC first called for the termination of commercial bowhead whaling, making specific exemption for subsistence whaling, the U.S. responded by placing the bowhead on its endangered species list. In 1972, the enactment of the Marine Mammal Protection Act created a moratorium on the taking and importation of all marine mammals exempting subsistence hunting by Native peoples but providing that subsistence hunting of species designated as "depleted" could he regulated. In 1973 the Endangered Species Act was amended to provide for regulation of native subsistence hunting by the Secretary of Interior where he finds need for it. In both cases, prior notice and hearings would be required before subsistence hunting regulations could he established. The NSB has been seeking the assistance of the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a comprehensive bowhead stocks management program with early emphasis on undersea research into population size, biology, health, sociology, and long-term surveillance and communications systems development. If data in which the NSB can have confidence reveals the need for them, the NSB will develop bowhead subsistence whaling regulations in cooperation with the Secretary of the Interior. In the meanwhile,, the Departments of State and Commerce as well as Interior have the overriding trust responsibility of the United States to protect Inupiat subsistence whaling.

Environmental Politics

Opposition to subsistence whaling seems to have been initiated as a political tactic by the U.S. Over the past decade, the whale has become a symbol of conservationist political action and a symbol of U.S. leadership in responding to these politics. The U.S. was the first whaling nation to demobilize its commercial whaling fleet. Responding to a growing public anthropomorphic view of dolphins and whales, the Nixon administration strengthened its participation on the International Whaling Commission by appointing Dr. Robert White, Administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Marine Fisheries Service, to be the U.S. Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission. Nixon also appointed Alaska's former Congressman, Howard Pollock, to be Deputy Administrator of NOAA. Whale conservation is a strong political issue in the United States, as well as in the other sixteen IWC contracting nations. In 1972, Dr. White was joined by Russell Train, special representative of President Nixon, who asked the IWC to call for a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Because the IWC had no hard data to prove sufficient whale species depletion which would justify a full moratorium, it responded instead by calling for sharply reduced quotas on the most threatened species. Unemployment and economic dislocation caused by these quota reductions resulted in political controversy in Japan and South Africa, but whale politics were good politics for the Nixon-Ford Administration. The U.S. had no whaling industry to worry about, and very few worried about subsistence whaling.

The Scientific Committee

Responding to charges by the whaling industry that concern for whale stocks depletion were not grounded on good scientific data, the IWC organized its Scientific Committee to help the commissioners in their work. It is made up of scientists from all seventeen IWC member nations, four of which -- the U.S., the USSR, Iceland, and Denmark -- have subsistence whaling. The U.S. was represented by one of Dr. White's subordinates at NOAA, Dr. William Aron, Chief of NOAA's Office of Ecology and Environmental Conservation. When White left office early in the new administration, Aron was appointed U.S. Commissioner to IWC. From its beginning, the IWC Scientific Committee focused its attention on bowhead subsistence whaling. This was encouraged by the U.S. Scientific Committee members, Dr. Aron and his NOAA colleagues, who were able to use the Committee to lead their own Agency to intervene in Inupiat subsistence whaling. Some observers feel that NOAA failed to adequately respond to inquiries and concerns of the Scientific Committee in 1973, 1974, and 1975 because there was very little known about subsistence bowhead whaling. In 1973, the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA began placing biologists out on the leads off Barrow to count whales and observe whaling practices. This program was extended to Point Hope in 1974 and by 1977, the spring whale hunt was observed by 12 government biologists. In 1976, the Scientific Committee persuaded the IWC to urge subsistence whaling nations to begin regulating certain aspects of subsistence whaling, but once again, the U.S. was slow in responding. By that time, the NSB had developed a considerable presence in the Arctic and it was not a good year to begin regulating subsistence bowhead whaling in Alaska. Some progress was made by the NMFS toward moving the bowhead whale from the endangered species list to the "depleted species" category which would bring subsistence hunting under regulation. In February, 1977, NOAA's Marine Mammal Commission began asking the NMFS to declare the bowhead "depleted" without holding hearings -- on the theory that all marine mammals on the endangered species list qualify for the "depleted species" designation under the terms of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The NMFS balked, pleading the need to discuss all this with the Inupiat whalers and an argument began. The NSB was notified that consideration was being given to declaring the bowhead depleted last January, and by March NMFS/NSB discussions were formally underway with the reluctant approval of NSB Mayor Eben Hopson who felt that NOAA/NMFS policies were hostile to Inupiat interests. Representing the Inupiat were Dale Stotts, NSB Game Management Coordinator, and Arnold Brower, Sr., President of the Barrow Whaling Captains' Association and spokesman for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. Meetings held in Alaska and Washington, D.C., reflected the stated policy of the NMFS to seek the cooperation of the Inupiat community in any necessary subsistence whaling regulation. The NMFS wanted to show the IWC that a cooperative subsistence whaling regulation program was under development. The NSB, while actively seeking cooperative resource management agreements with the federal government, held back from the cooperation sought by NOAA and the Department of Commerce which had failed to respond to Aboriginal rights.


Jon Buchholdt, assistant to NSB Mayor Eben Hopson, shown conferring with Hopson. Buchholdt was a principal planner of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and has been assigned to Hopson to work with the ICC organization for the year. Hopson is ICC Chairman. Photo by Cysewski.

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference

In order to deal with precisely the kind of international politics as those of the bowhead whale, the NSB had been working to organize the Inuit Circumpolar Conference as a part of its Conservation and Environmental Security Program. The overriding concern was that of national commitment to the defense of Inupiat aboriginal subsistence hunting rights on land and offshore. As the NSB was engaged in final preparations for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), it was learned that the Scientific Committee planned to recommend that the IWC withdraw hunting exemption from bowhead whaling regulation and that an "O" quota be set for bowhead subsistence whaling. It should be noted that while only the Inupiat of Northwest Alaska and the Arctic Slope can legally hunt the bowhead, the bowhead whale ranges widely through the seas in the company of other species of whales which are commercially hunted. In the conduct of this commercial whaling, there occurs an "incidental" take of bowhead. An IWC fine of $1,000 is exacted for each bowhead incidentally taken -- in comparison with the $5,000 to $7,000 costs for each whale taken by Inupiat whalers. There are no reliable statistics on the number of bowhead whales "incidentally taken."

The Canberra Conference

Dr. Aron insists that he was unprepared for the Scientific Committee's bowhead subsistence whaling recommendations and had little foreknowledge of them before they were made to the IWC in Canberra. When Aron arrived there and learned that these recommendations would be adopted by the Commission, he wired Washington, D.C. for instructions. He was inclined to vote yes, but to vote yes was to commit the U.S. to enforce the IWC resolution across uncertain legal ground cluttered with questions of due process and the old and developing doctrine of aboriginal rights, close American kin to the Carter Administration's emphasis on foreign "human rights." But to vote "no" would be to renounce U.S. leadership in the good fight to save the whale. Aron's instructions to abstain from voting on the Issue was the result of work in Washington D.C. of people like Anne Stevens, a long-time friend of Inupiat whalers, her husband, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, and Assistant Secretary of State Patsy Mink who was familiar with Native rights doctrines from her work in Congress with Hawaii's Native land movement and who is viewed by NSB as sympathetic toward the Inupiat. When Aron voted to abstain, many IWC delegates, notably the Danish Commissioner, rose to castigate the United States for its reluctance to practice what it preached for others. The U.S. was joined in abstaining by the USSR which conducts a gray whale subsistence hunt using a modern whaling vessel in behalf of Native people in Siberia.

NSB Takes the Initiative

On July 11, the NSB Washington counsel filed a last-minute comment on the NMFS proposal to designate the bowhead whale a depleted species. Had the NSB not commented, the designation would have been made with no opposition. Many conservation groups had commented in favor of immediate designation. The NSB was the only party to defend Inupiat subsistence whaling rights and to assert the illegality of determining the bowhead to be a depleted species without following due process procedures. Because of this objection, the NMFS will have to hold hearings and offer scientific evidence that the bowhead is a depleted species. In early July, the NSB had appealed to the Secretary of Interior for help and on July 22 Interior Undersecretary James Joseph hosted a meeting attended by other top Interior officials, Dr. Aron, and officials of NSB and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and their counsel. The Interior Solicitor entered the case in defense of Inupiat subsistence whaling rights, and Joseph promised his assistance in the development of the comprehensive bowhead research and management program sought by the NSB. This was the first time Dr. Aron had been required to discuss his bowhead plans with Inupiat whalers or Interior officials. They discussed filing an objection to the bowhead subsistence moratorium.

Blocking the Moratorium

Under IWC rules, the U.S. can avoid enforcement of the moratorium by filing a formal objection with the IWC by October 21, 1977. Aron is opposed to this but the NSB feels that the U.S. need not lose any prestige objecting to the moratorium if it makes clear that it is merely exercising a prior responsibility for the protection of aboriginal hunting rights. The NOAA then could work on the reasons leading to the IWC action in cooperation with the Department of Interior and the Inupiat community. The decision to file an objection will probably be made by the President if Commerce and Interior make conflicting recommendations to the State Department. In the meantime, the NMFS and the President's Council on Environmental Quality will hold public hearings in Washington D.C., Barrow, and Kotzebue in September to determine the environmental impact of the IWC bowhead moratorium. The NOAA and D.C. conservation lobbyists intend to use these hearings to gain public support of the moratorium, while the NSB counts on them to achieve the opposite effect. The U.S. was the first to demobilize its commercial whaling fleet. Now it must decide if it really wants to demobilize is subsistence whalers in Alaska.


ICC conference organizers went to some pain to provide for church participation in the Conference and their efforts were rewarded by the organization of Observers from Churches by the eight ministers who observed the Conference. The senior among them was Jens Christian Chemnitz, head of the established Church of Greenland, a branch of the Danish State Lutheran Church. Chemnitz heads a church aware of the transition it must make under homerule. His participation at the conference was keen and active, and it was clear that the Greenlandic delegation was proud that he had come with them to Barrow. He opened the Conference by reading the Lord's Prayer in Greenlandic and was a source of insight and understanding to the other minister-observers: Rev. Menno Wiebe, Mennonite Central Committee, Canada; Elder Earl Larson, United Presbyterian Church, USA, National Council of Churches, USA; Rev. Robert Wills, United Presbyterian Church, USA, 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; and Rev. Charles R. White, Conference Liaison for Church Relations, Ecumenical Metropolitan Ministry, Seattle, Washington. The NSB is working with Observers from Churches and Rev. Charles White, formerly pastor of Barrow's Presbyterian Church, to organize broad mainline Church support on the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and ICC efforts to secure a unified Arctic coastal zone management system for the entire North American Arctic. The goal is the organization of a distinct circumpolar ecumenical Arctic mission capable of organizing strong Church support of sound national Arctic policies in the U.S., Denmark and Canada.


Armed with new State CZM legislation, Alaska's Office of Coastal Zone Management is entering into negotiations with the North Slope Borough and Kotzebue regional organizations to organize a bi-regional Arctic Coastal Zone Management Council, the members of which would he elected by the voters of both the NSB, and the Kotzebue region of the Northwest Alaska Native Association (NANA). This would be the first attempt on the part of the State of Alaska to develop an inter-regional Arctic land and resource management system. The Slate plans to join with the Department of Interior to conduct a joint near shore lease sale in 1978. NSB officials are cautiously optimistic about the State's efforts to convene and sponsor inter-regional CZM cooperation between Barrow and Kotzebue, but hopes for some State initiative to bring Canadian government participation into Western Arctic Coastal Zone Management organization and planning. Under the terms of Alaska's new CZM legislation, the bi-regional CZM district would have a 7-man elected board to make policy recommendations to the Alaska Coastal Resources Council, appointed by the Governor, to oversee the State's CZM program. This process for cooperative State/regional/local CZM cooperation is being set in place at a time when both State and Federal officials are looking for ways to accommodate State/local land use cooperation to ease public land management problems after final Federal Alaska land classifications are made next year.


(The following report was written by Dalee Sambo, a young Inupiat woman living in Anchorage where she is a student. She works part-lime for the NSB and served as staff assistant for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. The article was first published in Common Ground, a publication of the Alaska Workers Alliance and is reprinted here with their permission. - Ed.)
At the history making Inuit Circumpolar Conference held at Barrow, representatives of the Inuit peoples of Alaska, Canada and Greenland gave notice to the world that they intended to retain control of their Arctic environment. This control of their homeland is of a higher priority than other national claims. Over 300 people attended the five-day event hosted by the North Slope Borough Mayor Eben Hopson. The conference was held at Barrow School, where most participants brought their own sleeping bags. Cots were also set up.

Nelson Green lead the Canadian Western Arctic Individual delegation to the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Nelson works closely with Sam Raddi of the Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement (COPE), Inuvik. He was instrumental in shaping the political compromise that resulted in the Canadian delegations support of a permanent ICC organization. Photo Cysewski ---------------------------->

George Charles Yupik ICC delegate from Bethel, Alaska introducing the Bethel Dancer who performed at the conference. Charles is an executive with the Calista Corporation, largest of the regional corporations established in the State by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He comes from a prominent Bethel family, Bethel is on the lower Kuskokwim River in Southwest Alaska.

Bill Edmonds, President of the Labrador Inuit Association (LIA), was vice chairman of the Canadian delegation Edmonds is from Nain, Labrador. Photo by Roderick

 Opening speaker Mayor Hopson said "we enjoy certain aboriginal rights as indigenous people of the Arctic, it is important that our governments agree about the status of these rights, if they are to be uniformly respected . .. without our central involvement, there can be no safe and responsible Arctic resource development ... without our constant involvement, there can be no safe and responsible Arctic resource development ... we are under constant attack by oil corporations at Prudhoe Bay. I am hoping that we can plan Peace with the oil industry at this conference. Local home rule government in Canada, Alaska and Greenland is the only key to the protection of the delicate Inuit environment. " In the following days the historical movement began. After two days of disorganization and communication hassles the convention came up with the first resolution declaring the Inuit one people with an international voice. The resolution formed a permanent interim committee of four delegates for each country to begin working on the foundation of the new Circumpolar organization and a charter -- completion hoped by July 1978 Other major resolutions dealt with protection of aboriginal rights of the Inuvialuit of Canada's western Arctic region. The government of Canada issued permits to Dome/Can-Mar to do exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea in violation of Inuvialuit rights. Sam Radde, President of the Committee for Original People's Entitlement (COPE) made a brief appearance and asked for Inuit to support COPE's effort to a fair settlement of those rights. He left the following morning to begin negotiations with Prime Minister Trudeau. In support of a resolution calling upon the international Whaling Commission to defend the Inuit right to hunt whales, Charlie Edwardsen, Inupiat from Barrow for the North Slope Borough Washington D.C. office said 'People who have called themselves conservationists have chosen not to conserve the Eskimo . . our environment and our association with the whale is dependent on the survival of both communities: the whale as a specie and Inuit as a specie.' Whaling is an event which everyone of all ages in the community takes part and in which the food is shared among everyone. If whaling rights are taken away from the community, severe damage will be done to the cultural fabric of the Inuit.

Billy Neakok, NSB Director of Conservation and Environmental Security discusses ICC organization with Nelson Green, Committee for original Peoples entitlement, Inuvik, NWT Neakok worked closely with green and the Inuvialuit to negotiate the Canadian delegations approval of making the ICC a permanent organization. (Photo by Roderick)

 The Circumpolar Committee requested that the governments of Canada, U.S. and Denmark negotiate an agreement that will enable all Inuits to unrestricted travel and trade between the boundaries of U.S. and Canada. This is an aboriginal right important to the future circumpolar economic growth that they have not been able to enjoy. A strong feeling of unity and impressive performers from all over the Arctic made the conference not only a time for business but a major cultural exchange for the Inuit. Conference participants attended Nalukataq or whale feast which includes blanket toss and dancing in celebration of a spring whale catch. Greenland's 'Tukak Teatret,' the most real theater I've seen, performed a dramatic Eskimo legend of how the white man has affected them. Throat chanters of Canada entertained the audience by producing sounds such as waterfalls, dogs and mosquitoes. Saami people of Norway, Sweden and Finland's Arctic regions were present to observe the conference as well as entertain with folk songs. Young Inuit musicians such as Charlie Panogoniak and Ungusrasmus of Greenland were also on the stage. Last but not least Inuit dancers from all over Alaska performed. When the first resolution declaring the Inuit one people was passed and signed unanimously everyone looked at each other, brothers and sisters clasped and raised their hands together, the Greenland delegation burst out in a song about the Inuit and how they will never give it up. No one could hold their tears. That moment was the beginning of a unified Inuit effort to protect their aboriginal rights and their way of life. A culture that has survived for thousands of years.'Our language contains the intricate knowledge of the ice that we have seen no others demonstrate.' -- E. Hopson. It is the Inuit people and no one else who must have jurisdiction over their Arctic domain.

Hans Rosing and Dr. Oye Rosing Olsen happy during the closing hours of the Inuit Circumpolar conference. Both are close friends and colleagues in the Greenland Homerule Movement that headed up during the 1960's when they were students in Copenhagen.--Photo by Roderick


Guided by the University of Alaska's Edna Ahgeak MacLean, the NSB Inupiat Language Commission met August 18, 1977 to seek the formulation of bi-lingual policy. Two resolutions were passed calling for the development of bilingual staff at the North Slope Borough, and for Barrow public radio station, KBYR. In a letter to the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, MacLean asked that it require KBRW to use only bilingual announcers. And NSB Mayor Eben Hopson was asked to take affirmative action to develop Inupiaq literacy among his staff. Edna MacLean, a staffer with the University of Alaska's Native Language Program, has been working in close cooperation with Greenland's Dr. Robert Peterson, Institut of Eskimologi, University of Denmark. Peterson, acknowledged to be the leading expert in Inuit dialects and orthography, is also prominent in the Greenlandic Homerule Movement, and was instrumental in the organization of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. Greenland is totally literate in Greenlandic, very close to the Inupiaq dialect of Barrow and Kotzebue Alaska Inupiat community. Education and all other systems are operated in Greenlandic, with Danish the secondary language. Most young Greenlanders study English, and many are literate. MacLean is working with Peterson to develop a circumpolar Inuit orthography with which to follow Greenland's example in the North Slope Borough, and in other regions of the Inuit Homeland. Hopson hopes that Inupiaq literacy training can be a unifying theme for cooperation between the Universities of Copenhagen and Alaska and the NSB School District and Inupiat University of the Arctic to support public and business administration within the NSB with higher education and vocational training. The NSB regards Inupiaq to be an essential requirement for sound, long-term Arctic Coastal Zone Management, and the NSB's Inupiaq literacy training program will be aimed at the development of bilingual environmental protection, game management, and land use planning.


The Second General Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), hosted by the Nordic Saami Council, met in Kuvuna, Sweden August 23 -16, 1977. Organized by Native people from 19 countries while meeting in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in 1975, the WCIP deals with problems of physical and cultural genocide, and is attempting to strengthen the security of aboriginal rights of indigenous people everywhere. This year's hosts, the Saami, have been very active in international indigenous community organization. The WCIP General Assembly, which was attended by representatives of the NSB and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, focused upon the rule of the United Nations in the protection of Native rights.


How does a young minister in the 30's visit members of his congregation when they are scattered along 450 miles of Arctic coast? By dogsled, of course! The story of this yearly trip has now been published by the Commission on History and Culture of the North Slope Borough. Fred G. Klerekoper was the Presbyterian minister on the North Slope from 1936 to 1945. Almost every year during that period, he made a trip from Barrow to Demarcation Point on the Canadian border. He kept a diary which is now an important record of the families who live along the Beaufort Sea Coast. The minister's account of his first trip in 1937 was chosen for publication by the Commission because it is a "white man's" documentation of the traditional uses of the Arctic coast -- which are now threatened by oil impact and offshore shelf development. Rev. Klerekoper -- who later cooperated in the development of a phonetic alphabet and dictionary for the Inupiat language -- writes graphically and to the point about the rigors of Arctic sled travel, the beauty of the scenery, and shares a sensitive view of Inupiat family life and customs. The Arctic, he suspects, is "God's own solitude," and "never monotonous." There is the tale of a ghost ship lifted up on an ice island and seen floating down the coast, stories of boys caught on the ice and frozen to death, and the endless round of marriages, baptisms, and confessions of which he admits, "I imagine they are no worse than the average white community in the problems of lust, envy, pride, etc. They are much more willing to admit these difficulties than our more sophisticated white brethren." The publication of this early account is a remarkable addition to Alaskan literature and is available for $3.00 from the offices of the North Slope Borough. The title is Dogsled Trip from Barrow to Demarcation Point, April 1937: Diary of Fred G. Klerekoper.