The battle for the Frozen North: Point Hope (video)

Posted by bex — 7 December 2011 at 1:45pm - Comments

The small Alaskan community of Point Hope - or Tikiġaq, as the Iñupiaq people call their homeland - is one of the oldest continually occupied sites in North America.

The Iñupiaq settled here some 2,400 years ago and, since then, have depended on subsistence hunting of Arctic mammals - including seal, caribou and bowhead whale - for their survival.

But life there may be about to change. Next year, Shell hopes to start drilling in the Chukchi Sea just north of Point Hope, threatening not only the region's oceans and wildlife, but also the Iñupiaq's culture and food supply.

Caroline Canon, featured in this video by Will Rose and Kajsa Sjölander of 70°, is among those challenging the conditional approval of Shell’s exploration plan - backed by a group of 12 environmental organisations including Greenpeace. (The others interviewed are Steve Oomittuk, Point Hope City Mayor, and Lydia Nashookpuk, Point Hope resident.)

And, tellingly, a couple of weeks ago, voters in the North Slope Borough mayoral elections - a vast area encompassing the coastline where Shell plans to drill next year - swung behind the mayoral candidate who opposes offshore drilling, Charlotte Brower. She beat former Shell employee George Ahmaogak in a tense run off battle, in which the defining issue was offshore drilling.

As the battle for the Arctic gets under way, you can do your bit too. Right now, the UK is lobbying to water down new European proposals which would ensure that oil companies, like Shell, have to meet tough new standards when they operate in fragile areas like the Arctic. Ask David Cameron to use his influence to help protect the Arctic.

That's an awesome video. I used to live on the North Slope. I spent a lot of time in Point Hope too. A friend of mine recently said that she loved the video too, but that "Greenpeace confuses [her]." When I asked her why Greenpeace confuses her she responded:

"I believe awhile back they went up to the North Slope to try and stop Inupiaq their million dollar boats and helicopters. They promptly turned around and went back home and buried all their footage. 'Cause it was dumb."

At the end of the day, we're all working to protect the environment. Some of us, though, have a better understanding of that environment and better reasons for protecting it than a bunch of well-heeled, well-intentioned, but ignorant people running around in helicopters trying to save the cute little animals from the people who actually depend on them for subsistence.

The Inupiaq have been good stewards of their land for thousands of years. Maybe its time for the priveleged white people at Greenpeace to support the people who have an actual interest in the environment we're all trying to save. That support starts with an apology, not an expensive video.

Isn't it time that Greenpeace acknowledges some of their stupider moments?

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