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Why Native Alaskans Support Shell's Arctic Drilling

For many, offshore drilling means jobs and tax revenue
Inupiaq Eskimo hunters carry a rifle and walking stick while walking over the shore ice along the Chukchi Sea, Barrow, Alaska.

Inupiaq Eskimo hunters carry a rifle and walking stick while walking over the shore ice along the Chukchi Sea, Barrow, Alaska.

Photographer: Design Pics Inc/Alamy

Activists trying to stop Shell's offshore oil drilling in the U.S.'s Arctic Ocean region invoke the interests of native Alaskans. "These communities depend on this environment for food and resources and have stewarded it for centuries," Greenpeace says, as part of its "The People vs. Shell" campaign—what the group describes as possibly "the most important fight in environmental history."

A lot of native Alaskans, including many who live along the state's North Slope, would prefer that Greenpeace mind its own business. The locals depend on the oil business—many work directly for the industry—and welcome Shell's exploration. "The NGOs aren't really concerned about us," says Rex Rock Sr., a whaling crew captain from the tiny hamlet of Point Hope. "Shut down oil and gas, and you would be turning out the lights in our villages."