Inuit Circumpolar Conference

In June of 1977 at Barrow, Alaska, Inuit [Eskimo] delegates from Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, formed the Inuit Circumpolar Conference [ICC] , an international organization of Inuit representatives commited to asserting the rights of indigenous arctic peoples and to protect their culture and environment from deleterious incursions of industrial society far to the south. Meeting at regular intervals, ICC representatives, now including Inuit from the Russian Far East, have consistently stressed the ecological interdependence of the entire circumpolar region.

While in basic support of economic development in the Arctic, the ICC has favored a cautious approach in which the Inuit would be actively involved in the decision-making process, and where the economic benefits accruing from this development would not seriously jeopardize either the environment or the cultures of the largely Native population. Further attention has been directed toward protection of the subsistence economy and the renewable resources that are so vital to sustaining Inuit cultures long after petroleum and other minerals have been depleted from their particular regions.

Eben Hopsen, an Inupiat Eskimo from Barrow, and other early leaders of the ICC, saw the effort to unite all the circumpolar peoples as one of immense importance for it not only extended the ideal of local and regional self-determination to its fullest international extent, but it affirmed the desirability of establishing a viable northern Native political entity able to transcend the artificial boundaries imposed by the western nations.

For an early account of the forming of the ICC, see: Philip Laurizen's Oil and Amulets - Inuit: People United at the Top of the World, Breakwater Books, Ltd. (1983). For a recent publication on the ICC's position on the Arctic environment and development, see: Principles and Elements for a Comprehensive Arctic Policy, Montreal: McGill University Centre for Northern Studies and Research (1992).

In the spring of 1996, the ICC also opened its own web site which includes new material on policy-making and related matters.