Even if one believes that Native Americans in general or Native Alaskans in particular should have a special role in determining whether oil and gas development takes place in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- a debatable proposition -- one should at least paint a full picture of the native peoples' positions ["Alaska Natives Offer a Herd of Reasons to Block Oil Drilling," Style, Sept. 20].

Of the 7,000 Gwich'in in the Arctic, only 1,000 live in Alaska. Even if the Canadian Gwich'in are included, they make up only a small portion of the more than 100,000 native people in Alaska. The Inupiat people are the largest group of Alaskan natives, and they favor oil and gas production in the refuge. This includes Inupiat communities that live within or near the refuge. They have more at stake than the Gwich'in should development go forward. Further, 75 percent of Alaskans support refuge development.

Threats to the caribou are overblown; the herds most directly affected by past development on the North Slope have increased dramatically since the Alaskan pipeline was built.


Senior Fellow

National Center for Policy Analysis


The National Center for Policy Analysis is a nonprofit think tank that receives some funds from oil and gas companies.