Arctic indigenous peoples inhabit territories of 7 out of the 8 Arctic Countries (Iceland does not have indigenous peoples). Out of a total of 4 million inhabitants of the Arctic, approximately 500,000 belong to indigenous peoples.

Based on linguistic groups, the United Nation estimate about 40 different groups, including: Saami in circumpolar areas of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk and Chukchi in Russia, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit (Iñupiat) in Alaska, Inuit (Inuvialuit) in Canada and Inuit (Kalaallit) in Greenland.

While there is not one universal definition for indigenous peoples, both the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the International Labour Organisation’s Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ILO No. 169) provide useful points of reference.

Indigenous peoples’ organizations within the Arctic have the status of Permanent Participant in the Arctic Council. The Permanent Participants have full consultation rights in connection with the Council’s negotiations and decisions and represent a unique feature of the Arctic Council, making valuable contributions to its activities in all areas within the Council´s mandate. These organizations are:

Aleut International Association

AIALogo                                                                                                                           The Aleut International Association (AIA) represents Aleut on the Russian and American Aleutian, Pribilof and Commander Islands.
AIA website
President: Irina Timonkina
Executive Secretary: Liza Mack 

Arctic Athabaskan Council                                                                   

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The Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC) is an international treaty organization established to defend the rights and further the interests internationally of American and Canadian Athabaskan member First Nation governments in the eight-nation Arctic Council and other international fora.
AAC website
International Chair: Chief Bill Erasmus
Executive Secretary: Cindy Dickson

Gwich'in International Council                        

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Gwich’in Council International (GCI) represents 9,000 Gwich’in in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Yukon, and Alaska as a Permanent Participant in the Arctic Council; the only international organization to where Indigenous peoples have a seat at the decision-making table alongside national governments. GCI supports Gwich’in by amplifying our voice on sustainable development and the environment at the international level to support resilient and healthy communities.

GCI website
Chair: Ethel Blake

Inuit Circumpolar Council

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The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) represents approximately 160,000 Inuit in Alaska/United States, Canada, Greenland/Denmark and Chukotka/Russia. Founded in 1977 by the late Eben Hopson Sr. in Barrow, Alaska, the ICC has flourished and grown into a major international indigenous peoples organization.
ICC website
Current Chairmanship: United States (Alaska)
Chair: Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough
ICC Alaska Vice President: James Stotts
ICC Canada Vice President: Monica Ell-Kanayuk
ICC Greenland Vice President: Hjalmar Dahl

Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North 

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RAIPON was founded in 1990 at the First Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the North of USSR. Now RAIPON is the Russian umbrella organization which organizes 35 regional and ethnic organizations of indigenous peoples in the regions where they live. RAIPON represents 41 groups of Indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East. The total number of people is more than 270 thousand and they live in 60 % of the whole territory of the Russian Federation from Murmansk to Kamchatka.
RAIPON website
President: Grigory Ledkov
Contact RAIPON

Saami Council


The Saami Council is a voluntary Saami organization (a non–governmental organization), with Saami member organizations in Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden. Since its foundation in 1956 the Saami Council has actively dealt with Saami policy tasks. For this reason the Saami Council is one of the indigenous peoples’ organizations which have existed longest.
Saami Council website
President: Ms Åsa Larsson Blind


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