Good article in the Christian Science Monitor about the Inuit struggling to get their voice heard in the new Arctic oil rush.

As the article says: Five nations are now racing to claim new territory in the central Arctic Ocean, where climate change is expected to open up valuable new shipping routes, oil fields, and mineral deposits.

However the Inuit are desperate for their voice to be heard too. “We must develop, for the sake of my people and the world at large, a formal international process focusing on the Arctic that includes indigenous people having meaningful voices,” Aqqaluk Lynge, president of the Greenland chapter of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) told an international gathering of politicians, scientists, and religious figures here earlier this month. “Or [else] we might just get washed away in the melting ice.”

Since the 1980s, the Inuit have argued for the central Arctic to be set aside as a demilitarized zone, much as Antarctica is, and for visa-free travel among the Inuit people.

Now they want their voices heard about the future of the central Arctic basin, 2 million square kilometers of seabed that Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States are expected to be divvying up among themselves, based on assertions that their respective continental shelves extend into the area.

“The Inuit have lived in the Arctic for a very, very long time and we should have some role to play in regard to what happens here,” says Duane Smith, president of ICC-Canada, who is based in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. “We are the ones living here, and any detrimental impact to the area will have an effect on our way of life and our culture.”