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New Publication: Breaking the Ice: From Land Claims to Tribal Sovereignty in the Arctic

Announcing the publication of a new history of the first peoples of the Arctic

Breaking the Ice: From Land Claims to Tribal Sovereignty in the Arctic

On March 30, 2008, Lexington Books published Breaking the Ice: From Land Claims to Tribal Sovereignty in the Arctic by Barry Scott Zellen, who serves as deputy editor of the Strategic Insights e-journal published by the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. The book is a work of historical and comparative analysis that examines the Native rights movement in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic and the evolution of land claims policy as it crossed the international boundary, becoming a powerful tool for Native people to reclaim their heritage and re-empower themselves politically, while at the same time becoming stakeholders in the economic modernization of the North.

According to Dick Hill, the first Mayor of Inuvik where Zellen resided in the early 1990s, “Zellen’s book is timely to understand modern northern dynamics. As the Arctic ice recedes and temperatures rise, there is a need to take action on any benefits and to reduce any adverse effects. His description of ‘sovereign duality’ for northerners to be citizens and meaningful participants is helpful. Zellen effectively describes the importance of subsistence and how it is intertwined with land claims and co-management systems. The whole world is affected with sustainable living and environmental preservation in the same way that northern Native people are concerned for their regions. Breaking the Ice is an important contribution to Arctic understanding and open knowledge.”

Edwin Kolausok, former Deputy Mayor of Inuvik and federal land claims negotiator, comments that “the history recorded by Zellen in this important book is very timely and relevant in our world today,’ and the Native “struggle to re-establish self-sufficiency and self-determination within the federation of Canada, via self-government and land claims, is eloquently explained by Zellen. . . Zellen unfolds the intricate work that was done through land claims negotiations leading to the corporate structures and their co-management systems that ultimately will lead to self-governance, and continue to shape the ‘domestic tranquility’ of the Arctic.”

As Dr. James Wirtz, Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), has observed, “In this sweeping political and strategic history of the North American Arctic, Zellen provides us with a fascinating account of the struggle of Native Americans to regain some semblance of control over their lands. As global economic growth places a premium on securing new sources of energy resources and other raw materials, issues of sovereignty in the Far North will only grow in importance. Zellen provides the reader with the context needed to understand the ongoing international and domestic competition for control of the Arctic. This is a path-breaking study of an emergent issue in world politics.”

And as described by Dr. Thomas Johnson, the Director of the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies at NPS: “Tribal-state relationships, border problems, militant insurgencies, economic exploitation/dependence and oil are the stuff of this fascinating book that is NOT about the Middle East. Barry Zellen has written a dense and meticulously researched book of the trials and tribulations of the Inuit of Canada and other indigenous peoples of Alaska, Northern Canada and the Arctic regions as they strive for sovereignty and confront and adapt to modernity and globalization. Zellen tells a story that has significant relevance to many of the present dilemmas facing the international political economic system. Zellen’s Breaking the Ice: From Land Claims to Tribal Sovereignty in the Arctic deserves broad readership.”

Zellen first journeyed to the North in 1988 and spent much of the next decade living and working there as a journalist, publisher, and broadcaster specializing in indigenous cultural preservation.

Breaking the Ice: Book Details

Table of Contents:

  • Foreword
  • Preface: Breaking the Ice
  • Chapter One: Introduction
  • Chapter Two: Alaska in the Age of Native Land Claims
  • Chapter Three: After ANCSA: The Persistence of Subsistence
  • Chapter Four: Land Claims Come to the NWT
  • Chapter Five: Co-Management in Action: Balancing the Two Arctics
  • Chapter Six: After Land Claims: Toward the Restoration of Tribal Sovereignty


  • Price: $90.00
  • ISBN: 0-7391-1941-9 | 978-0-7391-1941-9
  • Publication Date: March 30, 2008
  • Length: 450 pp


  • Price: $44.95
  • ISBN: 0-7391-1942-7 | 978-0-7391-1942-6
  • Publication Date: March 30, 2008
  • Length: 450 pp

To order the book, please visit, or call 1-800-462-6420. If you would be interested in speaking with the author, please contact Zellen at:

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