Executive Summary for April 7th

We review the latest Arctic news, including a blog post on Western leaders’ collaboration with Russia in the Arctic, a proposal to create seven maritime World Heritage Sites in the Arctic, and an Indigenous take on Russia’s sale of Alaska to the U.S. 150 years ago.

Published on April 7, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

The Case for Cooperating With Russia in the Arctic

Russia is a constructive partner in the Arctic, Heather Exner-Pirot says in a thoughtful blog post for Radio Canada International.

Western leaders sometimes struggle with the question of how to engage with Russia, given their concerns that the country is actively working to undermine democracy and human rights in a variety of ways, she says.

But Exner-Pirot notes that in the past month Russia has participated in multilateral meetings to help regulate fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean and encourage coast guard cooperation between Arctic nations. Russia has also supported efforts to improve Arctic scientific cooperation that will result in an agreement to be signed at the Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks next month.

Plus, seeing that Russia encompasses half of the Arctic’s land mass and two-thirds of its population, leaving the country out of international agreements aimed at protecting the region would be self-defeating at best, Exner-Pirot says.

World Heritage Sites Pitched for the Arctic

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has picked seven marine sites in the Arctic that it considers worthy of being World Heritage Sites.

The report lists the proposed sites as the Bering Strait Ecoregion (including St. Lawrence Island); Remnant Arctic Multi-Year Sea Ice and the Northeast Water Polynya Ecoregion; the Northern Baffin Bay Ecoregion; Disko Bay and Store Hellefiskebanke Ecoregion; the Scoresby Sound Polynya Ecoregion; the High Arctic Archipelagos; and the Great Siberian Polynya.

As the Maritime Executive states, conservationists are hopeful the report will provide another nudge to help ensure fragile Arctic ecosystems receive greater protection.

An Indigenous Take on Russia’s Sale of Alaska

William Hensley, a descendent of Inupiaq Eskimos, offers a nuanced take on Alaska’s history for the Conversation.

It’s been 150 years since the U.S purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Given the state’s wealth of oil, fish and minerals, the transaction proved a remarkably good deal for the U.S.

Hensley recalls how Russian fur traders enslaved or killed many of the Indigenous inhabitants they encountered. He also reports that Alaskan natives had to wait until 1924 before America recognized them as citizens and allowed them to vote, own property or file mining claims. Alaskan natives had to wait even longer for a law to be passed in 1945 that banned once-common signs such as “No Natives Need Apply” and “No Dogs or Natives Allowed.”

Recommended Reading

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