“The Day of the Arctic Has Come” predicted Governor Hickel in the June 1973 edition of the Readers Digest. “The Arctic is a vast, forbidding territory as mysterious as the moon,” he wrote, “yet under its cover of ice and snow lies a unique opportunity for the future.” He urged the U.S. to start accessing and using Arctic resources – both its fabulous natural beauty and immense reserves of fossil fuel.
Four years after Hickel’s article, the first oil from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska’s North Slope oil field, arrived in Valdez via the 800-mile, trans-Alaska pipeline, en route to markets in the Lower 48. Alaska oil would soon reduce the U.S. dependency on the Middle East by two million barrels per day and increase the young State of Alaska’s daily revenue stream by millions of dollars.
Traditional costumes adorn the welcoming committee at the Yakutsk airport in Eastern Siberia as Governor Hickel and Malcolm Roberts, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of the North, arrive for a Northern Forum assembly in 2004
In 1990, Alaska Governor Steve Cowper chaired a conference in Anchorage attended by 600 delegates from ten Arctic nations. The success of the gathering captured the interest of Governor Hickel when he took office in early 1991 and other leaders of regional governments through the North. As a result, they met again to create an Arctic-wide organization called the Northern Forum that would include the leaders of regional governments throughout the North. On November 8, 1991 in Anchorage. Arctic governors, premiers and presidents established a 40-member, nine-country board of governors from the member states and regions. Hickel was elected as the First Chairman.
Throughout Hickel’s second term, he dedicated his time, and the time of staff, to reach out and strengthen the new organization that enabled all Northern regions, including the many regional governments in Russia, to meet on an equal basis to address common problems and opportunities.
First President of the Sakha Republic in Eastern Siberia Nikolaev and Governor Hickel, both former Chairmen of The Northern Forum, stayed in close contact for nearly 20 years.
In May 1994, the first circumpolar flight lifted off from Anchorage on an historic journey that included stops in 16 cities including all eight Arctic nations. Due to a last minute legislative special session in Alaska, Governor Hickel was unable to join the 80 circumpolar travelers, therefore Alaska’s First Lady Ermalee Hickel agreed to serve as the co-spokesman for the delegation. (LINK to Ermalee’s Circumpolar journal.)
In June 1994 at the General Assembly meeting in Rovanemi, Finland, as his term as chairman came to a close, Hickel’s fellow Arctic leaders named him “Lifetime Secretary General of the Northern Forum.”
In Rovanemi, Finland: the Governor of Finnish Lapland and Chair of the Northorn Forum, Hannele Pokka and Governor Hickel