Several Alaska Native leaders from the North Slope traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, but she once again has refused to meet with them.
As Haaland did when asked by North Slope Natives to meet with them during the Alaska Federation of Natives meeting in October in Anchorage, the secretary once again blew off the people of the North Slope, who want her to consult with them before making a final decision on oil development in ANWR.
This is the eighth time Haaland has turned down a meeting with these Alaska Natives, who are in favor of responsible oil development.
Among those traveling were representatives from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, the Inuit Community of Arctic Slope, and North Slope Borough Mayor Josiah Patkotak.
Haaland instead flew off to speak at the Western Governors Association about the importance of listening to Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
Monday was the deadline for comment on the Interior Department’s draft environmental impact statement, and the department refused to extend the deadline to hear from those Natives on the North Slope who are in favor of oil.
At a press conference with Alaska’s senators, Nagruk Harcharek, president of Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, said, “The federal government continues to make decisions about our ancestral homelands, now in the name of environmental justice, with little to no regard for the voices of our people.”
On Wednesday, the group was allowed to meet with Acting Deputy Secretary Laura Daniel-Davis, with Rep. Mary Peltola attending the meeting with them.
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska even put in a plea to Haaland, sending her numerous text messages requesting a meeting with the Alaska Native leaders. He never heard back. Finally, after he send her a message saying, “I expect the courtesy of a response,” the secretary told him to coordinate with her staff, but made no commitment to meet.