Projects and Research

Russian paleontologist Andrei Sher
Russian paleontologist Andrei Sher participated in a Yukon field trip during the International Mammoth Conference in 2003.

NPS/Jeff Rasic

The Shared Beringian Heritage Program funds outstanding scientific and cultural projects of tremendous variety. Recent projects have included work on marine mammals, sea ice patterns, reindeer herding, archaeology, and documentation of local traditions, language, and culture. Increasingly with the rapid changes occurring in the region, projects are related to climate change and other broad-scale issues affecting the region. This includes research to gather critical species and habitat information, documentation of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and establishment of citizen-based science in the U.S. and Russia. a complete list of funded projects contact e-mail us.

Whether you want to see what projects are currently active, find information on past projects, or apply for funds, we hope you will find your information here. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please contact: e-mail us for more information.

Current Projects

Examples of current and ongoing projects funded through the Shared Beringian Heritage Program are listed below. Many of these are multi-year projects. For a complete list of funded projects, contact: e-mail us

Beringia Seabird Youth Network

This youth exchange project focuses on developing ties between students and teachers in the Pribilof (US) and Commander (Russia) Islands through the study of seabirds that are common to both regions. It includes a joint curriculum in both English and Russian, active and regular pen-pal relationships, and a weeklong "Island Seabird Youth Camp" for Russian students.

Partner: Northern Research Technical Assistance Center (NORTAC)
Contacts: Priscilla Wohl and Anne Harding (Principal Coordinator)

Novelty in a Predator-Prey System Facilitated by Humans and Climate: Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears and Muskoxen

This project is testing hypotheses about how muskoxen respond to grizzly and polar bears by using comparative analyses across the Beringia region, including field work in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument in the United States and on Wrangel Island Zapovednik in Russia. The common thread is understanding predator-prey interactions and how these may change. If it can be first understood why and how the ecology of muskoxen changes, expected outcomes of management actions can be amplified to improve conservation.

Partners: University of Montana, Colorado State University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society
Contact: Joel Berger, Professor, Colorado State University

Sivungam Nevngallgha Quteghllagmum (Savoonga’s Bond & Connection to the Great Land (- Chukotka)

The aim of this project is to strengthen ties and celebrate the shared cultural traditions and familial ties between Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island, and several Siberian Yupik villages in Chukotka through dance and cultural exchange. For example, a sewing workshop allows communities members to share traditional sewing techniques and customary sewing materials and helps to preserve, record, and pass along shared cultural traditions.

Partner: Native Village of Savoonga
Contacts: John and Arlene Waghiyi

Traditional Knowledge of the Native People of Chukotka about Walrus and Dialogue across the Bering Strait on Walrus-related Concerns

This project facilitate dialogue among walrus hunters, researchers, and managers from Alaska and Chukotka on issues affecting the Pacific Walrus population, such as climate change, disappearing sea ice, the rapid changes in weather, and increased shipping traffic in the Bering Strait region. Discussion and shared perspectives are happening via workshops in Nome and Chukotka, as well as through outreach efforts to walrus-dependent communities throughout the Bering Strait. The project also will focus on the collection of traditional knowledge of walrus, and will look at the similarities and differences between regional understandings. As part of this effort to preserve subsistence traditions and ancestral knowledge, the participants will produce a Chukchi/Yupik/Russian/English walrus dictionary.

Partner: Eskimo Walrus Commission, Kawerak, Inc.
Contact: Vera Metcalf, Executive Director

Diomede Island Family Reunification Visit

The primary goal of this project is to research, track, and re-establish family ties between the people of Little Diomede and their (relocated) relatives in Chukotka, Far East Russia. These relatives are descended from the previous inhabitants of Big Diomede Island, but were forced to relocate during the Soviet period. A further goal is to convene one or more re-unification visits that would bring these family members together on Little Diomede for the first time.

Partner: The Native Village of Diomede
Contacts: Frances Ozenna, Tribal Coordinator; Robert Soolook, Tribal Council President, the Native Village of Diomede

Bering Strait Indigenous Peoples’ Traditional and Contemporary Knowledge, Experience and Beliefs of the Supernatural Environment

Western explorers, travelers, and researchers have documented information about the Supernatural across Alaska and the circumpolar north for over a century, oftentimes as collections of folk talks and myths. This project is an examination and documentation of the Bering Strait region indigenous residents’ knowledge and beliefs about, and experiences with, Supernatural phenomena. This is a community-based and community supported projects and includes collaborations with 17 of the 20 tribes in the Bering Strait region of Alaska. Through the promotion of storytelling and knowledge exchange at gatherings, the project will focus on how culturally specific knowledge of the Supernatural describes and guides people’s relationships with the environment, including proper behavior towards and within the environment. The enduring salience of the Supernatural within Bering Strait indigenous culture provides a key driver for conducting the project, and suggests this research will provide valuable information on knowledge sharing identify maintenance, and culture change.

Partner: Kawerak, Inc.
Contact: Julie Raymond-Yakoubian, Social Science Program Director

Old Believers in Modern America

The objective of this project is to update, edit, print, and distribute the book Old Believers in Modern America. This ethnography will be a valuable contribution to the research on Alaska and the circumpolar Arctic. It will give readers insight into why the Russian Orthodox Old Believers came to Alaska and why they want to continue their traditional way of life. The book will also clarify and modify theories regarding socio-cultural change in Arctic Alaska and circumpolar regions.

Partner: Alaska-Siberia Resarch Center
Contact: Alexander Dolitsky, President

Reindeer Traditions of Beringia: the 1905 Churchill Photographic Collection

This project uses an historic photo archival collection housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. to investigate the shared reindeer herding history of Beringia. Using a dual methodology of archival research and photo elicitation interviews with Bering Strait residents, the project will document photographs taken during Indian Agent Frank Churchill’s 1905 journey through Alaska and East Cape aboard the U.S. Revenue Cutter bear. The oral history interviews and archival research will provide the first complete review and documentation of this collection. Information gathered will illuminate early 20th century reindeer herding patterns, highlight the daily practices of reindeer herding in Alaska, and explore the extent to which Alaska herding traditions were adopted from Chukchi herding practices.

Partner: The University of Alaska Fairbanks
Contact: Amber Lincoln, Principle Investigator

Developing a Standard of Care for Cruise Tourism in the United States Arctic Waterways


Much of the shipping activity in the U.S. Arctic passes through or near the Bering Strait region and has a propensity to affect natural and cultural resources as well as local communities. This project reflects a modification of an existing agreement to develop standards of care and best practices for cruise tourism and shipping in the Bering Strait by extending the existing work to integrate Russian counterparts. Because the Bering Strait is recognized as an ‘international strait’, ships not visiting the U.S. or Russia are still granted unimpeded ‘right of passage’. Therefore, any measures based on identified adverse effects to the environment or local people, including indigenous hunters and their communities, in designated international straits, must be jointly approved by bordering states before the International Maritime Organization can endorse them. This modification aims to bring Russian scientists and managers into the existing project in order the further the adoption of conservation measures in the Bering Strait region and larger Arctic.

Partner: Wildlife Conservation Society
Contact: Martin Robards, Arctic Beringia Program Director

Nome Archaeology Camp


The Nome Archaeology Camp is field school for high school age students in the Bering Straits and Northwest Alaska region that has taken place in Nome in each of the last three years. The NPS partners with Kawerak, the Katirvik center, Bering Straits Native Corporation, the Carrie M. McLain Museum, and Alaska Geographic to put on the camp, which uses field trips and hands-on activities to teach students techniques for exploring and appreciating the cultural and natural of the region. The camp is about more than archaeology. Local and regional experts help incorporate traditional knowledge, museum studies, wildlife biology, and history.

Partner: Kawerek, Inc., Bering Straits Native Corporation, and Alaska Geographic
Contact: Jeff Rasic, Chief of Resources, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve

Coastal Cultural Resources Inventory, Monitoring and Treatment Program at Bering Land Bridge and Cape Krusenstern


This project will synthesize three years of fieldwork related to survey, inventory and monitoring of coastal resources in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument. The cooperator will create a detailed plan for how to treat threatened resources along with a prioritization framework that allows protected area managers to identify resources that need immediate attention lest they be lost to increased intensity storms and higher rates of erosion.

Partner: Portland State University
Contact: Shelby Anderson, Principle Investigator

Past Projects

For over 20 years, the Shared Beringian Heritage Program has been funding projects that are of scientific, cultural, international, and local significance. The range of projects span cultural heritage (e.g. archeology, ethnography, dance, linguistics), education, mapping, natural sciences (e.g, botany, climate change, oceanography, and wildlife), subsistence, traditional ecological knowledge, and youth engagement. For information about a specific project or to obtain a list of all funded projects, please contact e-mail us.


Apply for Funds

The Shared Beringian Heritage Program is planning to conduct a call for proposals in October 2017 for new projects to begin in 2018. Project duration may be 1 to 3 years, not to exceed a total of $150,000 for three years. All projects must include a “meaningful” Russian component. Please check back to this page for details on eligibility, criteria, and submission requirements.