About the Program
The Shared Beringian Heritage Program recognizes and celebrates the natural resources and cultural heritage shared by Russia and the United States on both sides of the Bering Strait. The program seeks local resident, national, and international participation in the preservation and understanding of natural resources and protected lands, as well as working to sustain the cultural vitality of Native peoples of the Beringia region. To these ends, the Beringia program promotes free communication and active cooperation between the people and governments of the United States and Russia concerning the Beringia region.
The Shared Beringian Heritage Program, created in 1991, resulted from a commitment by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev to expand United States and Soviet cooperation in the field of environmental protection and the study of global change. The natural and cultural resources in the area known as Beringia are of international significance and present tangible proof that the North American and Asian continents were once connected by a vast land bridge.
Since the 1960s scientists and local indigenous populations have recognized the importance of the Beringia region and sought some form of formal recognition for the area. The U.S. Congress recognized the importance of the shared cultural and natural heritage of the Beringia region in 1991 when it directed funding to the National Park Service to establish the Shared Beringian Heritage Program.
Mission and Goals
The Shared Beringian Heritage Program recognizes and celebrates the natural resources and cultural heritage shared by Russia and the United States on both sides of the Bering Strait. The program works to improve local, national, and international understanding of these resources and sustain the cultural vitality of Native peoples in the region. The program's goals are to:
- Foster a climate of mutual understanding and cooperation among the United States, Russia, and the indigenous people of Beringia in environmental protection, historic preservation, and interpretation.
- Support subsistence opportunities within Beringia and recognize the unique and traditional activities by indigenous people of the region.
- Promote the study, interpretation, and enjoyment of the natural and cultural resources of international significance.
- Support cultural exchange between the indigenous people on both sides of the Bering Strait.
In support of the Shared Beringian Heritage Program's (SBHP) goals, funding is currently committed to a variety of activities. These activities involve scientists, government officials, teachers, and youth from the United States and Russia, as well as local communities and Native people across the Bering Strait region. At present, the Beringia Program is involved in:
- Supporting four continuing and four new research and community-based projects. The program provides substantial involvement on behalf of the National Park Service, which facilitates connections between cooperators. These projects are diverse and range from collecting traditional ecological knowledge regarding polar bear habitat use, monitoring muskoxen, organizing a reindeer knowledge exchange, family reunifications, and creating a Beringia messenger network to facilitate regional and international communication. Most of these projects involve international partners and Alaska Native people. If you would like to learn more about current projects, click here.
- Making project deliverables available to the public through the program's website, Facebook page, and mass mailing. Short descriptions of past projects and digital copies of most deliverables are available on the program's website at "Find a Project."
- Soliciting project proposals for funding in fiscal year 2014 and continuing to make the application processes easy and accessible to everybody - watch for the "call for proposals" in April 2013.
- Providing support to the Chukotskiy Autonomous Okrug Administration in developing an agenda for the Beringia Days Conference 2013, and exploring opportunities for project participants and local citizens to be involved in future conferences and other relevant venues.
- Keeping the website content dynamic and current by providing updated information on the program, projects, products, news, goals, and activities as a way to communicate with our public and cooperators.
- Maintaining the Shared Beringian Heritage Program Facebook page and developing content that would build an audience. Plans and posts include sharing deliverables, promoting events, organizing interactive forums and chats, highlighting individuals, organizations, and partners. Click here to like us on Facebook and receive current program updates.
- Utilizing different approaches for presenting Shared Beringian Heritage Program achievements to the various audiences and age groups. Currently we plan to develop a unique bilingual program brochure, a quarterly newsletter, a tabletop exhibit, popular articles featuring the Beringia Program, and a variety of presentations on Beringia.
- Supporting displays and presentations on Shared Beringian Heritage Program-funded research and project results to the public at various popular events including the Alaska Federation of Natives and Nome/Kotzebue/Barrow regional meetings.
- Continuing to promote local and youth involvement in the program, and encouraging their participation in issues of national and international importance. In pursuit of this goal, we plan to pursue the advancement of two youth forum project proposals, sponsor efforts to document and record cultural activities in Beringia communities support and encourage the inclusion of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the planning and implementation of projects and activities. Efforts will also be made to recognize local youth for their achievements, and the program will continue to support youth leadership efforts in rural communities.
- Working with the US federal agencies and offices on the details of possible international designation for Beringia and continuing formal consultations with villages/leaders on the subject of the designation. We also plan to maintain clear and frequent communication with the Russian Federal government on establishment of a National Park in the Chukotka Region.
- Hosting international delegations and visitors, developing and providing sets of materials on protected area management in Alaska.
- Finalizing the translation of the Foundations of Marine Mammal Hunting by L. Bogoslovskaya, I. Slugin, I. Zagrebin, and I. Krupnik.
- Seeking alternative funding sources for layout and printing of two additional publications.