Sep 29, 2015 - Shell Oil Ceases Arctic Drilling Exploration: Native Defenders Respond

On Monday, Royal Dutch Shell announced it will cease its efforts to explore for oil in the Alaskan Arctic after an exploratory well in Chukchi Sea failed to yield the hoped for oil and gas.

For the past nine-years, Royal Dutch Shell had set its sights on drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean investing over $7 billion in the exploratory project.  The proposed Arctic drilling drew intense opposition from Alaskan Native villages, tribes, and environmentalist citing the negative impacts drilling would have on traditional fishing economies, marine life, and towards contributing to increased climate change.

Opposition reached a fever pitch when President Obama approved for Shell to return to the Arctic to resume exploratory drilling earlier this year, despite the disastrous 2012 effort that saw one of their drilling rigs break free and run aground off of Kodiak Island, Alaska.

When Shell’s oil drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, docked in the Port of Seattle in late-Spring massive demonstrations were held there on land and sea.  In Portland, activists suspended themselves from bridges in attempt to block the passage of Shell’s rigs. Idle No More held rallies in Alaska.

Last Real Indian’s reached out to local Native defenders active in the fight against Arctic drilling to get their response to Shell’s decision:



Sweetwater Nannauck (Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian) and Director of Idle No More Washington photo Michael Rios

Sweetwater Nannauck (Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian) Director of Idle No More Washington – “Today we celebrate the victory of Royal Dutch Shell pulling out of the Arctic!  Not only has it been a bad business decision for Shell from the very beginning, the cost of drilling impact on the environment, the traditional way of life of the indigenous people in the Arctic, the irreparable contribution to climate change, and rising sea levels.   Natives and non-natives in Seattle stood in unprecedented unified action honoring the original indigenous stewards, and sought spiritual guidance to bring a peaceful resolution to protect the Arctic.  We could not stand idly by and allow Shell to bring about a horrific legacy to be left to future generations that cannot be quantified nor justified by profit margins.




Justin Finkbonner – Lummi

Justin Finkbonner (Lummi) “The Lummi Youth Canoe Family has helped to play an instrumental role in this amazing accomplishment today as the Shell Oil Company has announced that they will curb their oil drilling for the time being…. Over 15 Lummi Youth participated to help raise awareness about our Salish Sea and how important it is to our Way of Life.

This is a major victory for humanity and our Mother Earth. We must continue to educate our tribes about how to become Green Nations by purchasing environmentally conscious products for our casinos, administrations, enterprises, schools, housing divisions and more.  We must continue to educate our youth about climate change and how important it is to protect our own Salish Sea here in the Northwest.  We are still primarily a fishing community just as most of our communities are along the salt waters.  We rely on clean waters to sustain our shellfish, crab, fish, as their foods. As our elders teach us, ” when the tide is out, the table is spread” and we must be the protectors of the waters.  Our tribal elected leaders must continue to form alliances with the non profit environmental agencies in order to strengthen policies and laws against corporations that find loopholes within the laws to carry out their irresponsible actions for profits.  We must inform our tribal enterprises about the investment companies and our 401-K planners that are also funding these irresponsible companies. We have a lot of work to do.

This December, our canoe family will travel to the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Paris, France to inform the world about our waters, our air, our lands and impacts of global warming in our community.  It will be an honor to usher our kids into a once in a lifetime opportunity to see leadership on a global scale and learn about other activities that the world is working on.  I dream that our youth will return home to our Salish communities wanting to unite youth councils from around the territory to learn about how they can make a difference.  Thanks to the Indigenous Environmental Network for helping to inspire dreams and making them come true.




Charles Fiddler – center. Photo Damian Conway

Charles Fiddler (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians) “Anything that prevents the continued rape and destruction of aki (mother earth) and our nibi (water) is good news, but it is important not to forget that this is just one small victory in a continued war against our land and water, it’s still up to our Elders, ogitchidaa (warriors ) and ogitchidaakwe (warrior women) to continue to protect and defend our land and water.




Tracy Rector Director Longhouse Media

Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole), Executive Director Longhouse Media “I do see Shell’s withdrawal from Arctic drilling, at this time, as a positive win for the environment but only temporarily.  It was the realization on their part that it would not be the huge profitable venture that the greedy corporate executives were counting on.  The fact that they deemed it not worth the effort for the foreseeable future is great news, but to herald it an activist victory and calling this a “win”worries me because there is so much serious work towards protection of the Arctic that needs to happen now.  It’s not time to rest, it’s time to organize even more, and push forward until there are definite assurances that the beautiful region will have absolute protection that clearly states that the Arctic is off limits to drilling of any kind and safe from corporate pirates who seem to be very disconnected from the ultimate life source…Mother Earth.”


by: Matt Remle

Matt Remle (Lakota) writer and editor for Last Real Indians and LRInspire photo by Alex Garland.

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