In 1975, Alaska was represented in the Senate by Senator Ted Stevens, Republican, and Senator Mike Gravel, Democrat, a member of the Senate majority.  Senator Gravel had provided Senate leadership in enacting legislation reforming the charitable industrial foundations by requiring them to make more foundation grants to worthy recipients.  Indiana's Lilly Endowment, of the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical corporation, then one of America's wealthiest charitable foundations, sent Gordon St. Angelo to lobby  Senator Gravel.  St. Angelo was an active member of Indiana's Democratic Party.  Gravel asked St. Angelo to call upon Mayor Hopson when the Senator heard of Hopson's plans to organize what became the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and Mr. St. Angelo solicited the proposal below that was funded by the Lilly Endowment in the amount of $80,000.00.                                                                                                                              ...JMB

September 9, 1975

Request for Lilly Endowment Grant Support:

First International Inuit Community Conference

Click here for related correspondence.


The North Slope Borough is seeking financial support from the Lilly Endowment for a three-phase program of international Eskimo community organization through which we Eskimo people of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and eventually the Soviet Union, can join together to meet common problems posed by industrialized society encroaching upon our land, our communities, and our traditions. Toward that end, the North Slope Borough wishes to sponsor a major international Inuit community conference in Barrow in the early Spring of 1976 to discuss common problems and opportunities in the areas of language, communications, education, transportation, village health care and sanitation, housing environmental protection, energy resource planning and community organization. This conference will follow-up, for the circumpolar community, the Arctic Peoples Conference that was sponsored by the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada and held in Copenhagen in 1973, and will involve the cooperation of Eskimo leaders from Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

The Lilly Endowment is being asked to make a commitment to a three-phase program of pre-conference agenda planning, conduct the conference, and post-conference follow through. The budget submitted with this proposal is for the first-phase pre-conference agenda planning session to be held in November or December, 1975, and a preliminary budget for the conference (Phase II).

We Eskimo are an international community sharing common language, culture, and a common land along the Arctic coast of Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Although not a nation-state, as a people, we do constitute a nation. This is important not because nationalism solves problems, but because our common nationality is the basis of our present attempt to find solutions to our common age-old problem of survival. Our communities are old. Point Hope, for instance, is a village in which our people have lived for over 3,000 years. But national boundaries imply concepts which have had no place in our society where sharing is a large part of our secret of survival in the Arctic.

For thousands of years we were people without national boundaries. Rather, we were people of our land, cold and dark most of the time, and other people did not covet our land. But the world grew more crowded. the people in Europe developed large populations and began to make their living as farmers, and traders in search of the things they needed but could no longer provide for themselves. Furs, for instance. We Eskimo survive out in the cold. but the people of Europe and Russia killed off all of their game about two hundred years ago, and the international fur trade began. It brought Russian trappers to Siberia and Alaska, and it brought European trappers to Greenland and to Canada, and they lived among us and we shared our land with them.

As the people of Europe grew in population, they became more crowded and began to fight among themselves over their land, and those who lost their rights came to America to share the land with the Indian tribes. Most settlers migrated to the more southern latitudes where it was warmer, and where they could plant crops, for most were farmers. Few came to the Arctic because most had forgotten how to hunt.

The United States is celebrating its bicentennial next year. Naturally, there are mixed feelings about this celebration among Native American people. By 1776, the European immigrants to America had already a history of fighting with America's Native people who lived on the land being settled by the colonists. It was the farmers against the hunters in tragic conflict and violence that has lasted, off and on, even until today.

We Eskimo avoided the combat and conflict brought on by European migration to America because of our climate. The Russians, English and French came to the Arctic only to trap and trade for fur, and later the English came to hunt the whale. But other than that, there was no competition for our Arctic land.

The European immigrants brought with them their own concepts of land ownership and property, and these included formal boundary-marking, and a complicated set of rules to prevent violence resulting from trespass across property boundaries.

We had very little to do with the European immigrants to North America for hundreds of years after they first began to arrive. But when the United States purchased the right to rule Alaska from Russia, we began to hear about "government" and learn to use the new technology. Education became very important to us.

It wasn't until Alaska became a State that we began to realize that we were about to lose our land. It wasn't until the early 1960's that we could organize ourselves to do something about it. When the Federal and State government began reaching out to our villages and making decisions about our land, it became necessary for us to organize politically on a regional basis in order to protect the land upon which we depend for survival. We began the Land Claims Movement.

When Congress granted Statehood to Alaska, it allowed the new State to select millions of acres of Federally-owned land, and the State began to select our land as its own. The land at Prudhoe Bay, for example. Our people, who survived the fur trade, international whaling, and the gold rush, began being threatened by the world's oil shortage. The oil discovery at Prudhoe Bay meant that the European immigrants to America had become rich, a highly industrialized people, and had finally begun to covet our Arctic land.

In 1965, we Eskimos of the Arctic Slope organized the Arctic Slope Native Association and filed claim to the ownership of all of our traditional hunting land, over 88,281 square miles. Other regions followed our example, and in 1967, the Secretary of the Interior froze all further Federal land transactions until the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was passed in 1971.

When we organized the Arctic Slope Native Association, we also began to work to win the right to local democratic self-determination, and sought to organize a regional, home rule municipal government. We saw that America's democratic strength lay in its local government, and we resolved to have our own local government to enable us to protect our land and our people. The No Slope Borough was organized in 1972, and is the only First Class, Home Rule Borough in Alaska, and so far the only regional borough in rural Alaska. Most of our tax base is owned by the oil industry at Prudhoe Bay.

Now that we have organized our Borough, and have begun to implement the Land Claims Settlement, we are concerned for all of our people throughout the Arctic. We know that the pressure of Prudhoe Bay fueled the Land Claims Movement in Alaska. The Land Claims Movement has become an international movement that is alive among our people in Canada. The regional Inuit associations that are organizing today remind us of our own regional organizational struggles of the 1960s. Our Land Claims Movement is the means through which we are protecting our land, an securing our right to home rule.

In 1973, the Inuit Tapirisat (Eskimo Brotherhood) of Canada organized an Arctic Peoples Conference in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, nobody from Alaska attended this conference. It dealt with the common problems of all of the aboriginal Arctic people of Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Russia. Unfortunately, nobody was able to spend time to follow through some of the solutions discussed at the Arctic Peoples Conference. Since then, the Inuit of Canada and Greenland have discussed the need for another international conference where we can exchange information about common problems, and organize to work together to solve them.

Many of our people living in villages on the Seward Peninsula, and on St. Lawrence and Little Diomede Islands, have relatives in Siberian villages, and we hope that detente can mean for us a reunion for these families. We would like to be able to communicate and visit with our people in Siberia.


The North Slope Borough would like to sponsor an effort to plan and conduct the first international Inuit community conference. We would like to hold it in late February or March, 1976, in Barrow. We are planning a three-phase project, including pre-conference agenda planning and organization; conduct of the conference; and post-conference follow up.

Phase I. Pre-Conference Agenda Planning and Organization.

Borough planners are into this first phase now. We are talking with Inuit community leaders in Canada and Greenland to determine who should be invited to an agenda planning conference to be held in Barrow in November or December, 1975. We are looking for leaders in the areas of community organization, local government, education, law, language, health care and communications. We would like this agenda planning to follow a general theme of circumpolar community communications, with emphasis upon language and community education.

Phase II. Conduct of the Inuit Community Conference.

The purpose of the conference will be to bring Inuit community leaders together so that they can meet one another, renew old acquaintances and make new ones, exchange information, and organize for future cooperation. One of the important objectives of the conference will be to determine the amount of funding to be requested of the Lilly Endowment for post-conference follow up and evaluation.

Phase III. Post-Conference Follow up.

Post-conference follow up should be the responsibility of a full time staff working under the auspices of whatever organizational entity that emerges from the conference.

At this point, there are a number of objectives that we would like to see pursued as a result of the conference. These include:

1. Language. As a consequence of the work of missionary and academic linguists in Greenland, Canada and Alaska, a number of orthographies have been developed for our Inupiaq language, and are in use. We need to agree on a standard writing system for all Inupiaq dialects of Eskimo. It appears to us that a single orthography would enable more efficient international Inuit community communications and organization, and would hasten the day when our language can be written and read by all of our people; when the education of our children can be conducted in our own language, as well as in English.

Borough planners are presently researching the history of previous work aimed at this kind of agreement in Greenland, Canada and Alaska, and we hope that all of the leaders in this work can be assembled in Barrow to agree on steps to take in the future to reach agreement on a common orthography.

2. Communications. We have been watching the developments in Canada in the field of radio and television communications, and are in the process of planning our own communications satellite relay system for rural Alaska. We foresee the creation of an Arctic coastal Eskimo-language radio and TV network serving all of our villages from Siberia to Greenland. This will be important to the development of a strong international Inuit community able to deal effectively with our problems and challenges. We will need to pursue formal communications agreements between our national governments so that new satellite telecommunications technology can be used to support our community organization, health care, and all aspects of education.

3. Education. The quickest results from our conference will be in the area of educational and cultural exchange. Building upon existing annual events like the Northern Games in the Northwest Territories, and the Eskimo Olympics in Alaska, in which there is already much reciprocal participation, we will want to get into programs for student and teacher exchange; travel study; traveling art and craft exhibits; international Eskimo art and craft marketing agreements; and cooperative development of Eskimo language curriculum materials and media software for use in teaching our children the history and cultural heritage of our circumpolar Inuit community.

4. Transportation. There is a need for transportation linkages able to unify our community, and provide for our needs more economically. We would like to see planning leading to:

  • International East-West Arctic coast air service between Alaska, Canada and Greenland.
  • Greater use of the Mackenzie River as a supply route for North Slope Borough communities.
  • The development of a deep-water port able to reduce the cost of living for our Arctic community.

This kind of comprehensive development planning for improved transportation should be one of the positive impacts of oil and gas development throughout the Arctic.

5. Environmental Protection. We are sensitive to the delicate balances that exist in the Arctic to enable us to live here. There is widespread anxiety among all of our people that those who come to our land to develop our natural resources will upset some of these balances, and cause us harm. Contrary to those who say that we are in a cash economy, we still depend upon the land for our survival, and this is most especially true among our people in the Northwest Territories. It is important for our entire community to be involved in the assessment of risk, and the determination of acceptable risk and adequate safeguards to be taken in the development of our natural resources so badly needed by all of the other people of our nations. We also feel that it is important for us that the social impact of Arctic resource development be accurately projected, and that we plan with our State, Territorial, and national governments to avoid and contain harmful impact of resource development among our people. On the other hand, we should also plan to take advantage of the opportunities resulting from resource development.

6. Village Health and Sanitation. Those of us who live in Arctic villages have a special set of community health problems that we would like to see handled by a circumpolar regional community health organization in cooperation with the World health Organization. focus needs to be placed upon village health aide training and professional development. We need to know more about new and developing village solid waste and water sanitation technology, and to have more research made in this area. Just as there is existing international cooperation in the study of the Arctic biome among the academic community, so too should there be international cooperation in the study and improvement of health and sanitation of the Arctic village community.

7. Housing. There needs to be more work done in the areas of Arctic housing with respect to architectural design, new building materials, heating and insulation, fire safety, and finance mechanisms. We would like to see established some systematic exchange of new information in these areas. Ideally, we will be able to develop Arctic village housing standards and specifications able to provide consumer protection for our people, and assure warm, safe and economical homes. Our homes should reflect back upon us our own cultural values and traditions, and carry them forward into the future.

8. Energy Resource Development. Fuel oil is rising in cost to the point where we are beginning to worry about being able to pay the cost of electrical generation, and heating our homes. We need to find ways to insure that we always have fuel oil and natural gas at prices we can afford to pay. We know that our land is rich in gas and oil, and we need to work together with the oil industry to insure that Arctic oil and gas development is translated into affordable access to energy fuels for our people.

9. Local Government. Local government is not a new thing for our people. We have always governed ourselves at the village level. Many of us have begun to master the forms of local government introduced and developed by the European settlers who migrated to America. But concepts of regional government are difficult for village residents, and much more work needs to be done to fashion a local government able to satisfy the demands of our State, Territorial and national governments, as well as satisfy our village people. We feel that local government should begin to include and use more of our older traditions of local village government. Strong international Inuit community organization would provide us added strength in negotiating for more home rule. We feel that there is room for Eskimo sovereignty within the democratic traditions of our national governments.


The Lily Endowment is being asked to support the costs of travel for the Conferees invited to the Conference. These costs were researched using the airlines schedules available to us.

We have provided for the use of scheduled air travel. We had considered using charter aircraft, something about which we will talk during the agenda planning session. In the meantime, for reasons of safety and comfort, we thought it best to use regular scheduled air service.

We have provided for expenses of Conferee lodging and food in Barrow; en route travel expenses; and honorariums for an estimated 75 percent of the Conferees for reimbursement of lost income.

We have provided for money to pay three translators. We have been advised by the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada to provide for Greenlandic/Danish translation, as well as translation between the Eastern Arctic and Western Arctic Inupiaq, and the Yupik Eskimo spoken in Siberia, and Southwest Alaska. We are going to try to conduct as much of the Conference in Eskimo as we can, however. We will include funds for written translation of the proceedings in our grant application for Phase III support. We hope to be able to provide for simultaneous translation for this Conference.

We anticipate that those attending will want to invite certain experts to attend and assist with the Conference, and we have provided for payment of their travel expenses in the budget. However, we have not provided for any professional fees. We feel those invited would be able to waive consultant fees.

We plan to invite certain leading businessmen from such industries as energy, communications, transportation, health, and education to attend and contribute to the Conference at their own expense.

The budget is divided into Phase I and Phase II budgets.


PHASE I -- Agenda Planning and Organization

Travel and Per Diem Expenses: $12,645


Travel from Greenland:

Three round trip Sondre Stromfjord - Barrow ($1,500 x 3) = $4,500

Per Diem Reimbursement: $65 per day x seven days x three = $1,365

Sub-total: $5,865

Travel from Canada:

Three round trip Montreal - Barrow ($800 x 3) = $2,400

One round trip Inuvik - Barrow = $325

Per Diem Reimbursement: $65 per day x four days x four = $1,040

Sub-total: $3,765

Travel from Alaskan communities:

One round trip from Bethel, Nome and Kotzebue - Barrow ($300 each community x 3) = $900

Per Diem Reimbursement: $65 per day x four days x three) = $1,040

Sub-total: $1,940

Total Air Travel: $8,125

Total Per Diem: $4,550

Total Phase I: $12,675


PHASE II -- Conduct of Conference

Conference Air Travel: $55,804


Travel from Greenland:

15 round trip outlying Greenlandic villages to Sondre Stromfjord ($150 x 15) = $2,250

15 round trip Sondre Stromfjord - Copenhagen ($363 x 15) = $5,445

18 round trip Copenhagen - Barrow ($918 x 18) = $16,524

Sub-total for Greenlandic Conferees: $24,219

Travel from Canada:

Labrador Inuit Association, two round trip Naim area - Montreal ($320 x 2) = $640

Northern Quebec Inuit Association, two round trip Ft. Chimo area - Montreal ($400 x 2) = $800

Baffin Region Inuit Association, two round trip Frobisher Bay area - Montreal ($500 x 2) = $1,000

Keewatin Inuit Association, two round trip Rankin Inlet area - Winnipeg ($500 x 2) = $1,000

Kitikmeot Inuit Association, two round trip Cambridge Bay area - Edmonton ($500 x 2) = $1,000

Committee on Original Peoples Entitlement (COPE), two round trip Inuvik area - Barrow ($400 x 2) = $800

15 round trip Montreal - Barrow ($800 x 6) = $4,800

4 round trip Winnipeg - Barrow ($500 x 2) = $1,000

4 round trip Edmonton - Barrow ($500 x 2) = $1,000

Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, 4 round trip Montreal - Barrow ($800 x 4) = $3,200

Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, 4 round trip Montreal ($400 x 4) = $1,600

Canada at large, 2 round trip International Canada - Montreal - Barrow ($1,200 x 4) = $4,800

Sub-total for 18 Canadian Conferees: $21,640


Travel from Alaskan Communities:

Association of Village Council Presidents, 4 round trip Bethel area - Barrow ($350 x 4) = $1,400

Bering Straits Native Association, 4 round trip Nome area - Barrow ($350 x 4) = $1,400

Northwest Alaska Native Association, 4 round trip Kotzebue area - Barrow ($350 x 4) = $1,400

Sub-total for 12 Alaskan Conferees: $4,200


Travel from Siberia:

3 round trip Siberian Coastal villages - Moscow ($500 x 3) = $1,500

3 round trip Moscow - Barrow ($1,415 x 3) = $4,245

Sub-total for three Siberian Conferees: $5,745


En Route Travel Expenses: $4,950

Greenlandic Conferees: $30 per day x 4 days x 18 = $2,160

Canadian Conferees: $30 per day x 3 days x 18 = $1,620

Alaskan Conferees: $30 per day x 3 days x 9 = $810

Siberian Conferees: $30 per day x 4 days x 3 = $360


Food and Lodging in Barrow: $4,590

$30 per day x 3 days x 51 Conferees = $4,590


Conferee Honorariums:

$25 per day x 3 days x 40 Conferees = $3,000


Translator Fees:

$200 per day x 3 days x 3 translators = $1,800

Guest Expert Travel: $3,000

Contingent Expense Fund: $3,000

Total Phase II: $76,144


Click Here to Return to Papers Index