July 18th, 2012
08:19 PM ET

Battle over Arctic oil: Eskimos on edge over drilling in Arctic

As Shell prepares for drilling in the Arctic, it's not just environmentalists who are up in arms. Some natives are terrified that drilling oil wells in the region will mark the end of their way of life.

One town in particular is saying "hell no" to drilling.  Shell says if things take off, as many as 100,000 jobs could be created. It's a deal that will generate hundreds of billions in tax revenues - a boon for local, state and federal government.

But residents say all the money in the world won't replace what will be lost if there's an oil spill.

Miguel Marquez went to Point Hope Alaska to find out what's at stake.

Alaska drilling: From 'hell no!' to ... 'OK'

Edward Itta, a powerful Eskimo leader, looks out at the icy Arctic Ocean stretched out under a fuzzy orange sun that refuses to set this time of year.

"This is our garden," said the former mayor of the North Slope Borough, a county-style government covering an area as big as Wyoming.

Itta's garden, the Arctic Ocean, is filled with the whales, seals, walruses and fish the Inupiat Eskimos still need to survive.

But many Inupiats think "their garden" is being threatened by an international oil rush to get at what may be a treasure trove of more than 25 billion barrels of crude.


Editorial note: We recently received comments about our use of the name "Eskimo" in our reporting of Shell Oil's Arctic drilling in Alaska. Below is our response on twitter and the reasoning behind the use of the name "Eskimo" to identify the subjects of our piece.

According to Lawrence Kaplan of the University of Alaska (Fairbanks)

Inuit or Eskimo: Which name to use?

Although the name "Eskimo" is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean "eater of raw meat."

Linguists now believe that "Eskimo" is derived from an Ojibwa word meaning "to net snowshoes." However, the people of Canada and Greenland prefer other names. "Inuit," meaning "people," is used in most of Canada, and the language is called "Inuktitut" in eastern Canada although other local designations are used also. The Inuit people of Greenland refer to themselves as "Greenlanders" or "Kalaallit" in their language, which they call "Greenlandic" or "Kalaallisut."

Most Alaskans continue to accept the name "Eskimo," particularly because "Inuit" refers only to the Inupiat of northern Alaska, the Inuit of Canada, and the Kalaallit of Greenland, and it is not a word in the Yupik languages of Alaska and Siberia.

Filed under: OutFront Exclusive
soundoff (One Response)
  1. J

    -Useless slanted journalism from Erin Burnett and the official -never to be left out- Erin Burnett team. Slanted AND BIASED UP THE YING YANG....

    July 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply

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