Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 1, 2008

Native groups file suit over Chukchi Sea lease sale

Inupiat elders resolution prompts region-wide lawsuit

By Indigenous Environmental Network

POINT HOPE, Alaska -- Today the Native Village of Point Hope, the City of Point Hope, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS), and the Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL) Alaska Native Network, a project of the Indigenous Environmental Network filed a lawsuit to fight the Chukchi Sea Lease Sale 193. Minerals Management Service (MMS) plans to hold the lease sale on February 6, 2008.
The Point Hope Elders Advisory Council, the traditional Inupiat leaders of the Native Village of Point Hope, passed a resolution supporting a legal challenge to prevent offshore oil and gas activities in the Chukchi Sea.“We support a legal challenge to MMS for holding Lease Sale 193 and we encourage others to follow us. As the traditional leaders of Point Hope, we ask all Inupiaq people to join us in our opposition to leasing the Chukchi Sea to oil and gas exploration and development. Help us protect our garden and the way of life we all share,” said David U. Stone, Sr., President of the Point Hope Elders Advisory Council.
The City of Point Hope has joined the lawsuit.“The people of TIKIGAQ [traditional name for the people of Point Hope] have hunted and depended on the animals that migrate through the Chukchi Sea for thousands of years. This is our garden, our identity, our livelihood,” said Steve Oomittuk, Point Hope City Mayor. "Without it we would not be who we are today. Even at this present day and time the animals from these waters shelter, clothe, and feed us. We would be greatly impacted if anything happened to our ocean and the animals that migrate through the Chukchi Sea. We oppose any activity that will endanger our way of life and the animals that we greatly depend on,” said Oomittuk.
The approximately 30 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Chukchi Sea 193 lease area include core habitat for polar bear and Pacific walrus, and encompasses the migration route of the bowhead whale, which the Inupiaq people of the North Slope have subsisted on for thousands of years ... Read article ...
Photo 1: Inupait Heritage Center Photo 2: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

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