Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat Takes Issue with the Ninth Circuit Decision
Ruling doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the Iñupiat
(Point Hope, AK) “Our members are appalled the Ninth Circuit places the habitat of the polar bears above the habitat of the people of the Arctic,” stated Sayers Tuzroyluk Sr., president of Voice of the Arctic Iñupiat (VOAI). “We continue to be frustrated, through utilization of the Endangered Species Act, as federal agencies continue to set aside lands in our homeland as critical habitat. These designations remove our ability to have the same basic rights of people elsewhere.”
Under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 187,000 square miles as critical habitat for polar bears – despite the fact the science used for the designation did not show a reduction in numbers of polar bears. On March 1, 2016 the Ninth Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court ruling that limited the area designated as critical habitat for polar bears. “This decision does nothing to restore sea ice,” added Tuzroyluk. “It instead can have significant negative economic impacts to our communities. We would hope that someday the federal government will recognize the indigenous people of the area as unique and worth saving too.”
VOAI membership organizations include Arctic Slope Native Association (ASNA), Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), Atqasuk Corporation, City of Anaktuvuk Pass, City of Atqasuk, City of Barrow, City of Kaktovik, City of Point Hope, City of Wainwright, Ilisaġvik College, Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation (KIC), Native Village of Atqasuk, Native Village of Point Hope, Native Village of Point Lay, Wainwright Tribal Council, North Slope Borough, Nunamiut Corporation, Olgoonik Corporation, Tikigaq Corporation and Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC).