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    Alaskan Indigenous People May Face Major Disaster Due to Offshore Drilling

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    Offshore oil and gas drilling in Alaska could pose a potential danger to the lives of the indigenous Inupiat people, said Darlene Dorough, a chairwoman of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    SALEKHARD (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko – Potential offshore oil and gas drilling on Alaska North Slope could dramatically affect the lives of the indigenous Inupiat people, a chairwoman of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues told Sputnik on Friday.

    "This is problematic for people at home because of their traditional whaling activity. And there is a real potential for a major disaster, because offshore activity is so much different than on land,” Darlene Dorough said.

    Dorough added, however, that there have been agreements on joint ventures and a lot of the indigenous peoples in the Arctic Slope region of Alaska are engaged in oil field services. The chairwoman noted that there are substantial benefits from oil and gas development in terms of the ability to create infrastructure.

    Dorough also explained that it is the indigenous peoples of Alaska who own rights to the land, including its mineral resources. Therefore, the federal government has not been active in trying to protect Alaskans' traditional lifestyle from the development of industry in the region.

    "In addition, as far as the North of Alaska is concerned, there is a pretty highly developed public government, which has been able to capture a revenue stream from oil and gas development," Dorough said.

    The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body of the organization's Economic and Social Council. It holds sessions once a year to discuss problems that indigenous peoples around the world face and to work out recommendations. The forum's inter-sessional meeting is currently held in Salekhard in Russia's North, and the next session is scheduled for April in New York.

    indigenous peoples, oil drilling, UN, Darlene Dorough, Alaska
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