Banner photo: Ergyron dancers from Chukotka perform during their visit to Anchorage
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About the Program

The USA, Alaska, Russia, and Chukotka flags sail above the crowd Cooperation between the two nations is manifest as the flags of the USA, Alaska, Russia, and Chukotka sail above the crowd at the street parade in Anadyr in 2003 (NPS photo by Ted Birkedal).

The Shared Beringian Heritage Program 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.

The U.S. Congress agreed that the shared cultural and natural heritage of the Beringia region and the reestablishment of ties between people in Beringia were of primary importance, and in 1991 directed funding to the National Park Service to establish the Shared Beringian Heritage Program. The Beringia Program receives approximately $650,000 on an annual basis.

Learn more about the history of the program here.

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.

2015 Program Objectives

The Shared Beringia Heritage Program strives to find new and innovative ways of meeting its mission and goals. In 2015 we are going to develop and schedule all of the program's activities based on the two primary objectives for the year.

Objective 1: Actively develop new relationships and strengthen existing connections in the Beringia region; facilitate partnerships and engage in collaboration with outside partners.

To meet this goal we will:

  • Give back to communities through sharing deliverables on the Beringia Program website, Facebook page, and through direct mailings such as the proposed newsletter;
  • Where appropriate and economically feasible, participate in community events and increase networking opportunities;
  • Use the Program's array of partners and collaborators to facilitate relationships between like-minded cooperators and those doing similar projects or related research;
  • Widely publicize within the region and beyond the annual "Request for Proposals;"
  • Continue to offer opportunities for consultation during proposal process, ensuring equal access for all applicants but establishing a finite timeframe;
  • Figure out how our goals fit in with the goals/projects of Arctic Council under the U.S. chairmanship and other Arctic organizations;
  • Establish and maintain ties with other organizations working in the Beringia region and explore opportunities for collaboration and information-sharing;
  • Continue people-to-people contact with existing partners in Chukotka, build upon them, augment with new partners, and further develop within the guidelines established by the US federal government;
  • Achieve the base knowledge of Russia's Beringia National Park: its goals, staffing, scope, future plans, and the projects they are working on; report on these for interested audiences in the US;
  • Stay in telephonic and written communication with key players across the Beringia Region;
  • Distribute translated products to targeted audiences in both Russia and the United States; seek out other opportunities (such as community events or public meetings) to distribute publications to relevant audiences;
  • Explore possibilities for translations of publications and program materials in to Inupiaq and Siberian Yupik;
  • Look for opportunities to include youth in Beringia Program activities and to engage with them in meaningful and productive ways like school presentations, curriculum development, and reaching out through existing cooperators and current projects that involve young people.

Objective 2: Effectively and efficiently monitor and engage with new and existing Beringia Program cooperators.

To meet this goal we will:

  • Find new and innovative (as well as cost-effective and realistic) ways to substantially engage with Beringia Program projects and cooperators;
  • Find effective and timely ways to engage with cooperators face-to-face, beyond a "check-in" or deadline reminder;
  • Support presentations by cooperators at appropriate venues;
  • Stay up-to-date with project deliverables, timelines, paper and electronic files;
  • Provide specialized expertise within NPS when necessary to assist cooperators in fulfilling their project requirements.
Last Updated: December 12, 2014