Science and the Indigenous Arctic - Legal basis for Inuit Sovereignty in the Circumpolar Region by Charles Etok Edwardsen, Jr.
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   S C I E N C E   A N D   T H E   I N D I G E N O U S   A R C T I C


                      Charles Etok Edwardsen, Jr
                           211 McCarrey #16
                        Anchorage, Alaska 99508
                            (907) 338-4930

                             June 15, 1993

I wish to thank the Polar Research Board and Dr. Loren Setlow for the 
privilege of sharing our views regarding our homeland and the impact 
of quantitative science. 

We, the Inuit, cannot really know what a contemporary experiment means 
unless we understand what materials and what instruments and what 
sciences are involved in its design. This is why the growing edge of 
science is so inaccessible to our common experience in Alaska and our 
Circumpolar Inuit homeland. 

The Inuit, of the Circumpolar Region, qualify as a nation state under 
international law. Therefore the Inuit of Canada, Denmark, United 
States, and Russia have met the criteria of Article I of the 
Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. Our inherent 
rights to sovereignty as defined by longest peaceful existence have 
never been extinguished by the claims of discovery by the Spanish, 
Russians, British, Portuguese, Danes, Americans, nor Canadians. 

Unlike the origins of the United States, France, and Russia, the Inuit 
call to freedom maintains our tradition of the longest peaceful 
occupation, co-existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the 
Arctic since time immemorial. Based upon our self-determination and 
supported by International Law, we make this Declaration of 
Sovereignty which signifies Inuit Independence from all Anglo-european 
original or derivative states, and from any infringement of Inuit 
Sovereignty. And, therein lies the healing truth for the Inuit and for 
our homelands which have been threatened by quantitative science and 
selective enforcement of laws outside of the scope of the 
Constitutions of the United States, Canada, and Russia. 

Sovereign immunity for unrecognized regimes has been practiced by the 
United States Supreme Court and began with _The Schooner Exchange vs. 
M'Faddon_. In an opinion by Justice Marshall, the Supreme Court 
affirmed the dismissal of the libel because a warship "in the service 
of a foreign sovereign, with whom the government of the United States 
is at peace" should be exempt from U.S. jurisdiction. Marshall's 
analysis began with the premise that no sovereign would voluntarily 
subject itself to the jurisdiction of another. Marshall states that 
"all sovereigns have consented to a relaxation . . . of that absolute 
and complete jurisdiction within their respective territories which 
sovereignty confers." 

The act of state doctrine was adopted by the Supreme Court as a 
principal of judicial restraint to avoid the unseemliness and 
potential problems that might arise if the courts of one nation sat in 
judgment over a foreign sovereign. In the words of the Restatement 
(Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the U.S., "[i]n the absence of a 
treaty or other unambiguous agreement regarding controlling legal 
principles, courts in the United States will generally refrain from 
. . . sitting in judgment on . . . acts of a governmental character done 
by a foreign state within its own territory and applicable there." 
Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the U.S. Section 
443 comment a (1987). 

Most certainly the Treaty of Cession of 1867 and the Maritime Boundary 
Treaty of 1990 are flagrant examples of unconsented taking of 
indigenous lands in the Inuit Homeland. The United States government 
has been the sole benefactor of the largest illegal expropriation of 
Inuit Homelands. 

This empirical coordination of economic interests undermined the 
Constitution of the United States of America. However, the United 
States has elected to become civilized as a signatore to the 
Convention of Genocide forty-years later than other countries. The 
Genocide Convention was submitted to the Senate by President Truman in 
June, 1949. On February 19, 1986, the Senate consented to ratification 
with the reservation that legislation be passed that conforms U.S. law 
to the precise terms of the Treaty. This enabling legislation was 
approved by Congress in October 1988, and signed by President Reagan 
on November 4, 1988. This legislation amends the U.S. Criminal Code to 
make genocide a federal offense. It also sets a maximum penalty of 
life imprisonment when death results from a criminal act defined by 
the law. 

The Genocide Convention proscribes conduct that is juristically 
distinct from other forms of prohibited wartime killing (i.e., killing 
involving acts constituting crimes of war and crimes against 
humanity). Although crimes against humanity are linked to wartime 
actions, the crime of genocide can be committed in peacetime or during 
a war. According to article I of the Genocide Convention: "The 
contracting parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time 
of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which 
they undertake to prevent and to punish." For the first time in 
history, the Inuit of the Circumpolar Region no longer fear the 
threats of standing armies of the allied occupation of the northern 

The higher-law obligations found in the American political tradition 
compel the United States to take the lead in the prosecution of the 
Iraqi war criminals. The principle of a higher law is one of the 
enduring and canonic principles in the history of the United States. 
Codified in both the Declaration of Independence and in the 
Constitution, it rests upon the acceptance of certain notions of right 
and justice that obtain because of their own obvious merit. 

"Indian" law is race law and the history of indigenous peoples in 
international law is one of genocide and forced assimilations, 
motivated by racial prejudice such as the "forced incorporation" of 
the indigenous peoples of Alaska into the Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act. The Arctic Slope Native Association voted "No" to 
ANCSA. They seem to have been the only representatives within the 
Alaska Federation of Natives with the ability to see into the future 
and to recognize a land robbery in the guise of a poor third world 
contract. A Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
may help us to gain a more honest perspective on the claims 

When was the last time that any of you met a man or woman from 
elsewhere who understood the bowhead or the walrus better than Inupiat 
hunters and their families? Dr. Michael Tillman was a speaker at the 
recent Inuit Circumpolar Conference for Commerce. At an evening social 
event Dr. Tillman, Director of Protected Species, National Marine 
Fisheries, and his colleagues informally admitted that to this day the 
federal scientists have operated without the knowledge of the 
recruitment rate of the bowhead specie. Under the auspices of Dr. 
Tillman, science had been used to belittle the entire Inupiat whaling 
culture to achieve nationalistic goals of the Reagan/Bush 
administration for a quick fix for the oil industry. As a consequence, 
Dr. Tillman created a false polarization, in the name of science, to 
politically suppress the vital way of life of the Inupiat culture and 
turned the issue into a national display of force. 

The State of Alaska does not exist in a vacuum of itself. The State of 
Alaska is subject to a compact, within the Statehood Act, between the 
United States and the indigenous Tribes of Alaska. The State of Alaska 
is not a sovereign of itself and, therefore, cannot be a signatore to 
any treaty by itself. This basic principle of federal law has been 
with us all this time. It is just that it is in the best interests of 
the State of Alaska to maintain this fraud. Read what the Bureau of 
Indian Affairs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published in 

     "Furthermore, the Indian treaties were not a grant of 
     rights to the Indians, but rather a grant of rights from 
     them to the non-Indians, with the Indians reserving to 
     themselves those rights not granted. The treaties 
     specifically protect those reserved rights. These basic 
     principles of Federal law, which undergird the decisions 
     in Indian treaty rights cases, have been the subject of 
     much misunderstanding and some non-Indians have found them 
     difficult to accept." 

Someone may say that the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act precludes 
treaty rights. This statement is based upon another fraudulent 
assumption as it is important to realize that a treaty is not an act 
of Congress. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act as an act of 
congress was a forced incorporation of indigenous peoples and can now 
be reexamined within the context of the United States Genocide Treaty 

The legal basis of the United States within the territory of Alaska is 
not derived from within the United States Constitution First, there 
was never a treaty nor consensual relationship between Czarist Russia 
and the indigenous tribes of Alaska. Secondly, the Treaty of Cessions 
of 1867 between Russia and the United States is not a transfer of 
sovereignty nor a secession of lands from the indigenous population. 
Therefore, the United States government is an occupational force 
within Alaska. 

This occupation can now be challenged under international law, 
particularly in that the United States and Russia cannot manufacture, 
between themselves, sovereignty which they have not acquired nor can 
ever acquire either on March 30, 1867 nor through the ratification of 
the Maritime Boundary Treaty of September 16, 1991. For the last 250 
years in Alaska, Russia and the United States, have been outside of 
civilized international law and outside of their own constitutions. 
The United States and Russia have been the benefactors of this 
unconstitutional occupation and have enjoyed one trillion dollars of 
ill-gotten gains. And, what of the indigenous peoples of Hawaii? 

Just as the State of Israel did not exist at the time of the 
commission of the crimes in question, the Inuit have adopted the Inuit 
Code of Offenses Against the Peace and Security of Mankind. 

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