SIKU – Sea Ice Knowledge and Use
April 6, 2012
In March, the Shared Beringian Heritage Program received a progress report documenting the recent activities on the project: SIKU – The Ice We Want Our Children to Know. This 2009 project focused on the documentation of indigenous ecological knowledge in Alaska and Russian Chukotka. The project's other declared goal was to strengthen Beringia residents' contribution to the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 program. IPY was the first major science initiative in which participation of Northern indigenous people was actively sought and their knowledge of the ice-dominated polar ecosystems has been promoted in multi-disciplinary understanding of the Polar Regions.
The report summarizes what they have been doing during the second phase of this project. Activities during this period are described in detail in the report, and included are descriptions of the research that was conducted in Gambell and Shaktoolik in Alaska, and in Uelen, Yanrakynnot, Novo-Chaplino, and Lorino in Chukotka. In 2010-2011 the data collected during the previous years was published in two volumes. Three other volumes are currently in preparation and scheduled to be completed in 2012. The main goal of the second phase of the "Preserving Our Knowledge" project under the NPS award was to document traditional terms for various environmental phenomena and subsistence activities. The project team also sought to organize the data collected under the formats that may be of most practical use to today's Native adults and youth, who are primarily bilingual or non-Native speakers. A crucial task is to make such topical dictionary "user-friendly," that is, to combine texts and lexical descriptions with the visual documentation, including digital color photographs, drawings by Native artists and professional illustrators, historical black-and-white pictures, and audio-visual documentation.
In-progress are three major deliverables, due at the end of 2012:
- Russian SIKU Volume ("Our Ice, Snow and Winds")
- Wales Iñupiaq Sea Ice Dictionary
- Siberian Yupik "Ecological Dictionary"