It’s About Time! Haaland Meets with Iñupiat Leaders on Ninth Attempt

It’s About Time! Haaland Meets with Iñupiat Leaders on Ninth Attempt

June 14, 2024

After eight ignored requests or cancelled appointments, the North Slope Iñupiat finally got their meeting with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in Washington, DC yesterday.

For a federal administration talking a good game about being the most in-touch with Indigenous voices and values, their indignation toward the regional representatives of tribal organizations, Native village corporations and various government bodies spoke much louder for the past 42 months.

With the Secretary finally in the same room as the Iñupiat delegation, they pressed her on why her department has ignored their positions on marrying environmental stewardship with responsible development of their ancestral lands.  Even after the meeting, they were unimpressed.

“The North Slope has been steadfast in its opposition to DOI’s unprecedented actions in our ancestral homelands, a fact that would have been made clear to Secretary Haaland had she met with our region’s elected leadership on the numerous occasions requested,” said North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management Deputy Director Nicole Wojciehowski. “T[he] meeting felt like an afterthought to the Department’s process, underscoring DOI’s flawed approach to Indigenous lands and people.”

It is clear by the actions coming from the Biden administration that – when it comes to tribal and Indigenous consultation – voices against development are treated more importantly than those of the North Slope Iñupiat and other groups.  Here’s hoping that they either change their approach, or that Americans decide on a different path for federal leadership come November.