Wow! We just finished a fantastic week in Barrow, Alaska the week of July 10-14. Some 1000 delegates and visitors from around Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia attended a meeting of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC).
This is an international group started in 1977 by the first mayor of the North Slope Borough in Alaska --the late Eben Hopson, Sr.
I had the privilege to be at that first meeting in Barrow almost 30 years ago, so it was extra special to be here for this meeting, the first time the group has met in Barrow since the original get-together.
The ICC was formed to help enhance unity among its members, and to speak out on polar issues which transcend national boundaries. These include human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, including hunting and whaling rights. Also now climate change and global warming.
Back in 1977, communications in Arctic Alaska, and other polar regions, where often very basic. Local folks in Barrow remember limited and varied long-distance phone service, and the big thing ---no e-mail.
"We love our e-mail," a representative from Greenland told me.
This year's conference was streamed by public radio station KBRW in Barrow and also video streamed around the world.
But old technology or new, the thing that has always struck me about the ICC is that it demonstrates the incredible unity among polar peoples. The distances are great, and the roads are few, but the indigenous people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic have longstanding roots of freindship and sharing.
Wish you could have all been here for this event.
Earl in Barrow