Inuit Circumpolar Council

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) (Greenlandic: Inuit Issittormiut Siunnersuisooqatigiiffiat), formerly Inuit Circumpolar Conference, is a multinational non-governmental organization (NGO) and Indigenous Peoples' Organization (IPO) representing the 160,000 Inuit and Yupik (often referred to as Eskimo) people living in Alaska (United States), Canada, Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark), and Chukotka (Russia). ICC was ECOSOC-accredited and was granted special consultative status (category II) at the UN in 1983.

Inuit Circumpolar Council
The logo of the Inuit Circumpolar Council
Stylised motif of a frame drum with a handle and a stick
Member states and regions of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
FormationJune 1980
Founded atNuuk, Greenland
TypeInter- and multinational non-governmental organization (NGO)
Legal statusactive
PurposeTo promote and to ensure rights, interests, and the development of Inuit culture and languages.
HeadquartersAlaska Anchorage
Canada Ottawa
Greenland Nuuk
Russia Anadyr
Region served
150,000 Inuit
Official languages
Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council
Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough
Vice-Chairs of the Inuit Circumpolar Council
President of ICC Alaska
James Stotts
President of ICC Canada
Nancy Karetak-Lindell
President of ICC Greenland
Hjalmar Dahl
President of ICC Russia
Tatiana Achirgina
Main organ
ICC International
WebsiteICC Alaska
ICC Canada
ICC Greenland
ICC Chukotka

The Conference, which first met in June 1977 in Barrow, Alaska, initially represented Native Peoples from Canada, Alaska and Greenland. In 1980 the charter and by-laws of ICC were adopted. The Conference agreed to replace the term Eskimo with the term Inuit. This has not however met with widespread acceptance by some groups, most pre-eminently the Yupik (see Background section below). The principal goals of the ICC are to strengthen unity among Inuit of the circumpolar region; to promote Inuit rights and interests on an international level; to develop and encourage long-term policies that safeguard the Arctic environment; and to seek full and active partnership in the political, economic, and social development of circumpolar regions.,[1] or in short: to strengthen ties between Arctic peoples and to promote human, cultural, political and environmental rights and polities at the international level.[2]

ICC holds a General Assembly every four years. ICC is one of the six Arctic indigenous peoples to have the status of Permanent Participant on the Arctic Council.


The Inuit population includes the following groups and regions:

All of these peoples are sometimes collectively referred to be the exonym Eskimo, the use of which is frowned upon by many of the Inuit, especially in eastern Canada and Greenland. ICC uses the term Inuit to refer to them all, which has its own problems. One of those problems is administrative: an Inuk in the United States could be considered "Native American", "Alaskan Native" or "Aboriginal American". The Yupik of both Alaska and Russia generally dislike being called Inuit, which is not a word in the Yupik language nor a word which they use to describe themselves, and prefer Yupik but will tolerate Eskimo.[3]

Structure and functions

The main goals of the organization are to strengthen unity among Inuit, to promote their rights and interests, and to ensure the development of Inuit culture. Structurally, the organization is made up of four separate offices in each of the four Inuit nations, chartered individually under their national rules. The Presidents of ICC Chukotka, ICC Alaska, ICC Canada, and ICC Greenland, along with one Executive Council Member elected from each of the nations, make up the eight-member ICC Executive Council. The Executive Council is presided over by an International Chair (formerly international president - the title was changed in 2002).

ICC holds a General Assembly every four years, bringing together Inuit from across the northern circumpolar region to discuss issues of international importance to their communities, provide direction for the work of the organization over the next four years, and divide responsibility for issue areas between the national offices. Assembly delegates appoint an international Chair from the General Assembly host-country, along with the members of Executive Council, and develop policies and resolutions for the coming term.

The General Assembly, and thus the international Chair position, rotates between the four Inuit nations quadrennially at the General Assemblies. At the 2002 General Assembly in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, Canada, the Chair passed from Greenland, where it had been held for the previous seven years by Aqqaluk Lynge, now a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, to Canada, where Sheila Watt-Cloutier, formerly the President of ICC Canada, took the position.

In 2006, the Chair passed to ICC Alaska at the General Assembly in Barrow, and was then occupied by Patricia L. Cochran, formerly Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission. At that Assembly, ICC also voted to change its name to Inuit Circumpolar Council as there has been perennial confusion over an organizational name that sounds more like a past meeting.

For the 2010-2014 term, Aqqaluk Lynge served as Chair. For the 2014-2018 term, Okalik Eegeesiak served as Chair. For the 2018-2022 term, Dalee Sambo Dorough is serving as Chair.

The Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Youth Council (2007-2010) was Greta Schuerch of Alaska.

See also

International initiatives
Individuals of influence


  1. Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  2. Inuit or Eskimo: Which names to use?
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