By AlaskaWatchman.com

The Biden Administration’s treatment of North Slope Alaska Natives has sparked outrage among Iñupiat leaders, who say their livelihoods have been disregarded in favor of scoring political points.

Earlier this month, Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland finally agreed to meet with North Slope Iñupiat leaders after years of stonewalling the region’s indigenous leaders.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland

Following the June 13 meeting, the Alaska Natives issued a lengthy statement blasting the administration, and Haaland in particular, for new and unprecedented mandates in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The meeting came after the Department of Interior’s (DOI) decision to finalize the NPR-A Rule, which drastically limits oil, gas and infrastructure development across much of the NPR-A, turning millions of acres into highly protected zones that preclude development and even many subsistence activities.

The NPR-A is a region specifically set aside by Congress to foster America’s energy security while generating economic revenue across Alaska. The area is estimated to contain 8.7 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Environmental groups, however, have praised Biden’s restrictions on fossil fuels, actions that some believe could improve the president’s standing among younger, left-leaning climate activists.

According to the statement by Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat, a nonprofit composed of the region’s collective elected Iñupiat leadership to protect North Slope Iñupiat cultural and economic self-determination, the Biden administration has ignored indigenous concerns while pressing forward with its controversial environmental agenda.

The group is composed of local government officials, Alaska Native Corporations, federally recognized tribes, and tribal non-profits across the North Slope of Alaska.

During the June 13 meeting in Washington, DC, the Alaska Native delegation pressed Haaland to engage in meaningful consultation with them before unilaterally imposing environmental mandates and restrictions that threaten to hobble the region’s economy and culture.

Other concerns expressed at the meeting included asking DOI to protect year-round subsistence access for Alaska Natives on traditional lands that are now managed by the federal government, and a commitment from Haaland “to protect subsistence rights over conservation.”

Additionally, the Native leaders implored Haaland to help eliminate “dangerous and offensive tropes about the North Slope Iñupiat” by members of Congress, the Biden administration, and outside organizations.

“Despite today’s meeting, we acknowledge the sadness present in our communities, because Sec. Haaland and DOI have chosen to ignore our voices, only choosing to meet us after advancing unilateral policies that will have serious long-term impacts for our communities and culture,” said Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat Program and Government Affairs Manager Kate Wolgemuth. “We are not political footballs for the federal government…”

Doreen Leavitt, Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope Director of Natural Resources and Tribal Secretary, said it is “inconceivable” that Secretary Haaland would wait so long to meet directly with Indigenous leaders whom she claims to support.

“By waiting until the eleventh hour to speak with our leadership, she has revealed how little this administration cares for the opinions of Indigenous communities in the policymaking process,” Leavitt added.

The group said the misguided NPR-A and ANWR policies will restrict over 32 million acres of the North Slope Iñupiat’s ancestral homelands and foreclose on future economic, access, and subsistence opportunities for local communities, including Kaktovik, the only community located within ANWR’s 19 million acres.

The statement added that 95% of the North Slope Borough’s tax revenue comes from “the authority to tax industry’s property and infrastructure.

“Through that tax revenue, the Borough is able to build schools, roads, hospitals and health clinics, provide local police and fire protection, and fund a wildlife department that conducts research to support local subsistence,” the statement noted. “It is through these services that the Borough is the largest employer on the North Slope.”

Nunamiut Corporation President William Paneak said jeopardizing tax base revenues threatens essential services that have helped double residents’ average lifespan over the past 55 years.

“Washington’s actions will roll back this progress, strip us of our right to economic opportunity, and make us refugees in our own homelands,” he added.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

Alaska Natives infuriated with Biden admin for ignoring concerns in favor of climate agenda

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


18 Comments

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Biden and Haaland are a Joke for America and Alaska.
    I can’t wait until voting day in November, to vote these losers out of office.

  • Patricia Baum says:

    Why come November, they should vote out Peltola and vote in Begich and Trump to gain a real advocate for their community. Only then, it will change.

  • mhj says:

    Haaland is an appointed official not elected. Doubt if you see her leave anytime soon unless the indigenous people in America unite and demand her resignation.

  • John J Otness says:

    Sullivan voted for this communist Haaland..remember him.

  • John J Otness says:

    A Marine voted for a communist….treason

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Good reminder! That marine surely knows the consequences of his treason!

  • Steve Peterson says:

    Yeah, but like African Americans, they’ll keep voting Democrat. It’s hard to turn off the gravy train that keeps them in line.

  • CD says:

    When are the Alaska Natives gonna wake up and realize that Biden and his cronies do not care about them? They only care about themselves and their own circles and will use the Alaska natives for their own gain. From a born and bred Alaskan of 50 years.

  • OAPSkweez says:

    The Native peoples of Alaska have been around far longer than the united States Federal government and, as far as I’m concerned, should tell the feds to POUND SAND! Do what YOU NEED TO DO for your People and communities!!

    • CD says:

      All of Alaskans need to address this. If they are doing it to them they will eventually do it to the rest of us. Defytyrants.com, Alaskans.

  • Zunny says:

    Mary Peltola is the only answer. The rest are out for their own self interest instead. It is obvious who works for Alaska and who only benefits from our resources.

  • Shelia says:

    Peltola votes most of the time with the Biden Administration like the good democrat that she is. Very seldom does she deviate from their wishes. Certainly, she is not the answer to Alaskan problems with the Biden Administration.

  • GOP Cowards and Evil Democrats says:

    Yup and both these commies are an abatross around Sullivan and Peltola’s neck!. May the stench hang on their necks! Both are corrupt and derelict.

    Sulluvan should be ashamed of his betrayal to justice and the Constitution. His silence to the lawfare and corruption and J6 prisoners qualifies him to investigated into his money trail too.

    I don’t give two shakes about R or D. This goes way beyond parties.

  • NAV says:

    Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is a political puppet being played for her stupidity for their (the ruling class’s) agenda of control.