Beringia Days 2013 in Anadyr, Chukotka
A small delegation from the Alaska Region of the National Park Service (NPS) will be attending the 2013 Beringia Days in Anadyr for the first time since 2009. Beringia Days is a bi-annual international conference which began as an effort to foster a climate of mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States and Russia. The conference brings together the Native peoples of Alaska and Chukotka, Russian and American scholars, researchers, environmentalists, and representatives of government and non-government organizations to promote the study, interpretation, and enjoyment of the Beringia region. The conference is organized on the Russian side by the Administration of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. The conference has also served as an opportunity for the SBHP and the National Park Service to work with local residents on both sides of the Bering Strait and to meet some of the primary goals of the program.
In addition to the 3 NPS employees, who are representing the Shared Beringian Heritage Program (SHBP), the NPS is funding a delegation of community leaders from the around the Beringia region. Partnering again with the Institute of the North (ION), who assisted the SBHP in Nome during the 2011 Beringia Days, the SBHP wanted the majority of the group to made up of those stakeholders "on the ground" in the Beringia region. Recently, attention has focused on the possible designation of an International Protected Area (IPA) spanning the Bering Strait and including federal lands on both sides. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Russia has been moving forward, with negotiations taking place at the highest levels of government.
In January 2013 an important step toward further cooperation was made when President Putin of Russia designated National Park Beringia in the Chukotka region; opening the door for an agreement to establish an international protected area. This will be the first Beringia Days held since the Russian designation of a new national park. Having local community leaders from Alaska in Chukotka encourages dialogue between indigenous people on the new federal park, opportunities for further cooperation, and their views on the proposed International Protected Area.
The Shared Beringian Heritage Program is grateful to the Office of the Governor of the Chukotka Administration, Irina Ryabhukina and the Department of Sports and Tourism, and our partner Institute of the North. All have been working extra hard on this event, and we appreciate the dedication to making this conference a success.