As someone acquainted with the Inupiat people of Kaktovik since the 1970s, I am concerned about the accuracy of the recent commentary “Our village is not a national monument” by Matthew Rexford (ADN, April 12). First, the feelings of the Kaktovik Inupiat regarding oil leasing in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are mixed. Some support it, while others oppose it and always have. An excellent podcast produced by Threshold in December 2020 includes the actual voices of some of those Kaktovik Inupiat who oppose development.
Secondly, Rexford is right that the lawmakers and environmentalists who have helped frame the debate are concerned about the caribou, polar bear, tundra and birds. But so are the Kaktovik Inupiat. Those who oppose development know that the animals and the tundra are essential for their subsistence way of life: I have heard them say this over and over again for the past 40 years. It is this subsistence way of life that would be threatened by oil development in the coastal plain.
— Cynthia Wentworth
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