How the Left exploits tribal hypocrisy on oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge



President Joe Biden continued to follow through on his campaign pledge to enact leftist environmentalism this month when he suspended oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The decision was cheered by leftist environmental groups as a victory for wildlife and social justice, supposedly protecting indigenous tribes from the alleged devastation of oil and gas drilling hundreds of miles from their homes. Biden Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy celebrated the move as “an important step forward fulfilling President Biden’s promise to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

The Trump administration had opened the door to drill on the Refuges’ coastal plain, a nearly 1.6 million-acre stretch on Alaska’s north coast. The 1.6 million-acre patch along the north slope is less than 10 percent of the total refuge that stretches 19.6 million acres across northeast Alaska, a total about the size of South Carolina.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that below the surface of the North Slope’s 1.6 million acres temporarily opened for leasing, known as the 1002 Area, lie between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If opened for operations, it could become the most productive oil field in the country at a time gas prices are soaring to seven-year highs under the new administration.

Yet on June 1, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order to bring leases to a halt, claiming “inadequate study” of the drilling’s impact by the prior administration. “The Secretary shall review the program and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, conduct a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program,” the order reads.

The Gwich’in Tribe, who live south of the massive wildlife refuge, claimed Biden’s decision to reverse course was a win for their “tribal sovereignty” by protecting the primary caribou herd in the region, a key regional food source.

“The Gwich’in Nation is grateful and heartened by the news that the Biden administration has acted again on its commitment to protecting sacred lands and the Gwich’in way of life,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff on the heels of Haaland’s order. “After fighting so hard to protect these lands and the Porcupine caribou herd, trusting the guidance of our ancestors and elders, and the allyship of people around the world, we can now look for further action by the administration and to Congress to repeal the leasing program.”

The Gwich’in have played a prominent role in keeping ANWR free of development, partnering with leftist groups to keep these millions of acres of U.S. land unused indefinitely. Writing in The Hill, Finis Dunaway, a history professor at Trent University and author of “Defending the Arctic Refuge,” summed up the Gwich’in’s more than four-decade crusade to ensure the absence of development on one of the nation’s last known major reserves of oil and natural gas.

The Gwich’in Steering Committee — founded by Gwich’in from Alaska and Canada in 1988 — reframed public perceptions of the refuge, helping grassroots audiences to see the Arctic coastal plain as vital to Indigenous food security and cultural survival. Their leadership and advocacy widened support for protection of the refuge, encouraging religious and faith organizations, humans rights groups and many others to fight for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. These unlikely alliances fostered grassroots involvement that proved critical to the numerous close calls and impossibly narrow victories that followed.

In other words, the Gwich’in have been fundamental to preventing of any sort of development on the nearly 20 million acres of pristine wilderness in the name of “environmental justice” since 1988. 

Yet only four years earlier, that the same tribe, which in fact lives outside the refuge, tried to lease their own lands within the habitat of the Porcupine caribou for oil exploration.

Read the rest of this column at The Federalist.


  1. Thank you Suzanne. And let us not forget that when the Trans- Alaska pipeline was put into place the Arctic caribou proliferated with each decade, as their population grew. There is no limit to leftist hypocrisy as they go hand in hand.

  2. Back in the mid 90’s a Gwich’in woman wrote in the Tanana Chief’s paper “Just because one of your parents is Native, doesn’t make you Native.”
    I’ve heard from members of other tribes that in their opinion, the Gwich’in are the most racist of Alaska’s tribes, that they’re even racist against breeds, and all the other Alaska tribes.
    They’re certainly not racist against “green”. .IMO they have a unique compass, in that if you nailed a wad of money to a tree, that tree would become their True North.

  3. Lies so many lies
    Right, we can sell our land for oil. But you can’t sell your land. How Stupid is that.

  4. Show of hands… is anyone surprised by this hypocrisy? It’s modus operandi for the Left.

    Al Gore lecturing us from his 20-room mansion about our carbon footprints,
    Greta Thunberg flying a crew to fetch her sailboat so she can have her wind powered photo op,
    Dozens of celebrities flying private jets to Davos and Aspen to lecture us about being eco-friendly.

    It’s what they do. Rules for thee but not for me.

  5. I loved it when US Senator Ted Stevens stood up on the Senate Floor and stated to his colleagues, “Don’t listen to these Gwich’ins. They’re just envious that the Eskimos have the oil and are drilling for it.”
    Sure did love Uncle Ted, and miss him!

  6. Time to consider Alaska seceding from the Lib DC swamp control, they have shut down almost everything we became a State on based on developing ours resources, oil, gas , minerals the environmental lobby and other far left Bolsheviks and State RINOs have sold us out.

  7. What people don’t know is that there is a lot of $$$ from environmental groups being pumped into these villages to push a certain narrative but not all of the Gwich’in people are opposed to drilling for oil you just don’t hear about it. Case in point, the villages of Birch creek, Stevens, and Beaver have all signed on with Doyon/ Hillcorp to drill for oil/ natural gas on their lands in the Yukon flats. I have no doubt that if those Gwich’in opposed to drilling had to give up all the luxuries that they enjoy from oil they would be screaming ” Drill baby Drill “!!!

  8. This is so pathetic! If you live in the village near ANWR you use things to help you live there that are made from oil! Makes me mad that those who are fighting against drilling are so radical.
    Such Hypocrites.

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