Winter travel, access, and changing snow and ice conditions in Alaska’s Copper River basin
By: Odin Miller
April 2023
NPS Natural Resource Report series
Key Words: Access, Alaska, Chitina River, Copper River, Co-Stewardship, Ice, Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge, Snow, Subsistence, Traditional Knowledge
In Alaska’s Copper River Basin, less reliable snow and ice conditions, increasingly common in recent years, have presented challenges for winter activities such as trapping, hunting, and gathering firewood. While previous studies have drawn similar conclusions elsewhere in Alaska and the Circumpolar North, these impacts have not been explored in the Copper Basin, specifically. Data for this project were collected using a set of nine oral interviews, conducted with local residents who have extensive knowledge and experience with winter activities in the Copper River Basin.

‘Drastic Changes’: Sea ice levels affecting seal hunting
By: Meghan Sullivan
Indian Country Today
September 15, 2021
Key words: Alaska, Northwest Coast, Kotzebue, Inupiaq, University of Alaska in Fairbanks,Ikaagvik Sikuken project, ice fields, climate change, ugruk (bearded seal), hunting season, collaborative research
For decades, the Inupiaq have noticed changes to the fields of ice that affect the ugruk (bearded seals). During a one and a half year study, the Ikaagvik Sikukun project made up of the Indigenous Expert Advisory Council, university academics, and expert researchers collaborated to investigate the changing environment of the northwest coat of Alaska. This project successfully brought together Indigenous knowledge and Western science in order to understand the interconnected relationship between sea ice and ugruk, and what the increasing affects of climate change may look like in the future.

Community-focused gardening takes root in Alaska
By: Meghan Sullivan
Indian Country Today
Keywords: Alaska Native communities, food security, food affordability
Alaska imports around 95 percent of its food from outside the state, often doubling the cost of fresh produce. Despite the challenges of location and climate, Alaska Native communities are working toward food security through gardening. Alaska Native gardeners are drawing on traditional ecological knowledge that values the vital role plants played in traditional diets.

How carving halibut hooks teaches Juneau students both science and tradition
By: Zoe Grueskin
KTOO Public Media
Mar. 22, 2019
Key words: Alaska Native communities, fishing, teaching, high school
This article discusses the success a high school science teacher has had through the incorporation of indigenous knowledge being incorporated into the science class. The teacher along with a community member are teaching the students how to make the traditional halibut hooks as a way of demonstrating conservation, subsistence patterns, and traditional knowledge.

Adapting to melting ice trails isn't easy, even for Arctic locals: Climate scientists wanted to understand how their lives are changing
By: Kat Eschner
Popular Science
Mar. 19, 2019
Key words: Alaska Native communities, climate change, ice, adaptation
This article summarizes a study that was done for Nature Climate Change. The article mentions how the indigenous populations use trails carved into the ice, land, and ocean to get to cultural centers, supplies, and food. The article discusses how it has become harder for Alaska Native communities to use these trails to obtain food and get around. The people in these communities are also having to adapt by adopting new modes of transportation.

Video - Native Village of Kotzebue's Enviornmental Program (2018 Honoring Nations Awardee)
Arctic Research Consortium of the United States
February 9, 2019
Keywords: Arctic Research, traditional science in collaboration with Western science
Alex Whiting, Enviornmental Specialist with Kotzebue's Environmental Program discusses the research that Kotzebue's Environmental Program's projects and research they have been involved in. The tribe developed a relationship with the researchers that allowed them to develop their own research questions, as well as aid in the methodologies and data of bearded seals research.

Co-production of knowledge and multi-level governmental collaboration in a rapidly changing arctic
By: Robin Bronen and Denise Pollock
Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS)
Nov. 30, 2018
Key words: Alaska Native communities, relocation, land collapse, flooding, climate change, collaboration
As Alaska Native communities prepare for relocation, research is being done in their communities wracked with the effects of a changing climate including permafrost melting, ocean level rise, flooding, and erosion. This environmental monitoring project allows community-based collaboration with Indigenous knowledge holders to better understand environmental processes. The goal of the project is to determine whether relocation is necessary and better understand the catastrophic land collapse that is occurring in their communities.

A New Season for Sea Ice and Walrus
By: Olivia Lee
Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS)
November 2018
Key words: walrus, Arctic, sea ice, Alaska’s Bering Strait, subsistence hunting
As Alaska’s sea ice comes later in the year and lasts for a shorter window of time, traditional knowledge, subsistence hunters’ observations, and elders’ memories inform understandings of walrus populations. Their behaviors are changing, for example, sleeping in open water because the ice is further North, and it is unknown where females and calves are spending more time. Sharing knowledge is urgently required to understanding Bering Strait climate conditions and animal populations.

Video - Theresa Arevgaq John, Cultural Adaptation & Resilience to Arctic Climate Change
Arctic Research Consortium of the United States
May 23, 2018
Keywords: Decolonizing, indigenizing, climate change, cultural resiliency, language, traditional science in collaboration with Western science, Arctic
Professor Theresa Arevgaq John presents a discussion for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States about her life as an Alaska Native, the changes she has experienced, and considerations we should all remember moving forward in dealing with climate change, maintaining indigenous cultures and languages, and remembering our shared humanity.

Scientists confirm traditional knowledge concerning seal pup migration
By: Zoe Sobel
Alaska Public Media
March 1, 2018
Key words: Seal pups, wind, pup survival
This short article and audio express the findings of western scientists that confirm tradtional knowledge regarding the direction seal pups travel.

Use of Traditional Knowledge by the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to Support Resource Management
By: James J. Kendall Jr., Jeffrey J. Brooks, Chris Campbell, Kathleen L. Wedemeyer, Catherine C. Coon, Sharon E. Warren, Guillermo Auad, Dennis K. Thurston, Rodney E. Cluck, Frances E. Mann, Sharon A. Randall, Mark A. Storzer, David W. Johnston, Deanna MeyerPietruszka, Michael L. Haller
Key words: Adaptive process, consultation, decision making, environmental impact analysis, indigenous knowledge, mitigation, North Slope Borough, scientific research, subsistence
Professionals who collect and use traditional knowledge to support resource management decisions often are preoccupied with concerns over how and if traditional knowledge should be integrated with science. To move beyond the integration dilemma, we treat traditional knowledge and science as distinct and complementary knowledge systems. We focus on applying traditional knowledge within the decision-making process. We present succinct examples of how the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has used traditional knowledge in decision making in the North Slope Borough, Alaska: 1) using traditional knowledge in designing, planning, and conducting scientific research; 2) applying information from both knowledge systems at the earliest opportunity in the process; 3) using traditional knowledge in environmental impacts assessment; 4) consulting with indigenous leaders at key decision points; and 5) applying traditional knowledge at a programmatic decision level. Clearly articulating, early in the process, how best to use traditional knowledge and science can allow for more complete and inclusive use of available and pertinent information.

Why Climate Scientists Depend on Alaska’s Indigenous Communities Now More Than Ever
By: Maddie Stone
October 11, 2017
Key words: Co-production of knowledge, Alaska, climate change
Co-production of knowledge by organizations and Alaska Natives is leading to a better understanding of nature’s conditions. While some projects are working well, others face challenges with relationship building/trust, research fatigue, technology issues, skepticism, etc. Changes noted impact ways of life of Alaska Natives.

The Alaskan Hunters Teaching Scientists about Whales
By: Sarah Zhang
The Atlantic
July 31, 2017
In Utqiagvik, Alaska, scientists conducting whale research have benefitted tremendously from collaboration with the Inupiat. While collaboration has not always been the norm here, today benefits from increased knowledge of whale biology resulting from that collaboration are better informing both whale research and whale conservation efforts.

Report: Inuvialuit Traditional Knowledge of Wildlife Habitat on the Yukon North Slope
The Inuvialuit of the Yukon North Slope have formed a Wildlife Advisory Council, a co-management body, comprised of federal, territorial, and Inuvialuit representatives, and they are working closely with researchers from the Round River Organization to develop a management plan that reflects how the Inuvialuit use Arctic resources and their understanding of seasonal habitat use by fish and wildlife. This process for integrating Traditional and Western science in the Inuvialuit Settlement Area will provide an important example for how other scientists and managers can work with native communities to fulfill the need for wildlife and management plans in other places.

Alaska indigenous people see culture slipping away as sea ice vanishes
By: Oliver Milman
The Guardian
Dec. 19, 2016
Keywords: Alaska, sea rise, melting, climate change, heat, language, walrus, ice, relocation, displacement
Alaska Native peoples are experiencing changes to their long-held communities and environments due to climate change and warming trends that melt sea ice, make walrus hunting less dependable, and causes them to consider the difficult possibility of relocating.

Interior and Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission Agree to Cooperative Wildlife Management Demonstration Project
U.S. Department of the Interior Press Release
November 29, 2016
U.S. Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor today signed an agreement with officials from the Ahtna Intertribal Resources Commission (AITRC) – which coordinates natural resource management issues for the eight federally recognized tribes in the Ahtna region – to create a cooperative wildlife management demonstration project on federal and Ahtna Corporation lands in Southcentral Alaska. The Memorandum of Agreement with the Commission will foster a greater role for the Ahtna people in managing subsistence moose and caribou hunting for tribal members under the Federal Subsistence Management Program. Recognizing the importance of traditional ecological knowledge and cultural practices, the agreement commits Interior to begin a process under the Federal Subsistence Board to allow the Ahtna Commission to administer caribou and moose hunts for tribal members under the Federal Subsistence Management Program.

Scientists use hunters' knowledge to understand a warming ecosystem
by Gayathri Vaidyanathan
Environment & Energy Publishing
August 26, 2016
Elders talk about beluga whales.

Local Knowledge as a Model of Climate Change Mitigation
By: Nichlas Emmons, Inc.
January 21, 2016
The Inuit Circumpolar Council –Alaska (ICC-AK) recently released a report that strongly tied the protection of traditional aspects of culture to the protection of the natural environment.

Weather and climate
35 min.
The activities of subsistence hunters, fishers and gathers are dramatically effected every day by weather and changing climate conditions. Having accurate information to gauge ice thickness, wind, temperature can make the difference between success and failure, safety and danger. Weather and Climate takes us to seven Northwestern Alaska Native communities (Kotzebue, Kivilina, Point Hope, Noatak, Ambler, Buckland and Deering) to find out how people there deal with and adapt to ever changing and less predictable environmental conditions.

“Always taught not to waste”: Traditional Knowledge and Norton Sound/Bering Strait Salmon Populations

By: Brenden Raymond-Yakoubian and Julie Raymond-Yakoubian
Kawerak, Inc.
Keywords:  Alaska, Bering Strait/Norton Sound region communities of Brevig Mission, Diomede, Golovin, Koyuk, St. Michael, Unalakleet, Wales, and White Mountain, Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative (AYK SSI), Traditional Knowledge, traditional knowledge holders, traditional ecological knowledge, salmon
Alaska fishery challenges range from management to ecosystem research. Traditional Knowledge holders share their long-term, multi-generational observations and understandings of the region. This report summaries and analyzes previous research in which traditional knowledge holders in local communities participated. Salmon and geographic, environmental changes are described as observed by these local communities that interact most closely and know their surroundings the best.

Alaskan Inuit Food Security Conceptual Framework: How to Assess the Arctic from an Inuit Perspective Technical Report
Inuit Circumpolar Council - Alaska

Third National Climate Assessment - Chapter 12: Indigenous Peoples, Lands and Resources
May 6, 2014
Today, delivering on our legal mandate and the President's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Third National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive, authoritative, transparent scientific report on U.S. climate change impacts ever generated. The report confirms that climate change is affecting every region of the country and key sectors of the U.S. economy and society, underscoring the need to combat the threats climate change presents and increase the preparedness and resilience of American communities.

A Case for Developing Place-Based Fire Management Strategies from Traditional Ecological Knowledge
By: Lily A. Ray, Crystal A. Kolden, & F. Stuart Chapin III
Ecology and Society, 17(3):37
Key words: Alaska, Climate Change, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Wildfire
Sustainability science promotes place-based resource management because natural processes vary among ecosystems. When local science is limited, land managers may be forced to generalize from other ecosystems that function differently. One proposed solution is to draw upon the traditional ecological knowledge that indigenous groups have accumulated through resource use. Specifically, authors compare claims about wildfires made by Athabascan forest users residing in or near the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge and in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire management plan for that refuge.

Promoting Wellness in Alaskan Villages: Integrating Traditional Knowledge and Science of Wild Berries
By: Courtney G. Flint, Ewan S. Robinson, Joshua Kellogg, Gary Ferguson, Lama BouFajreldin, Mallory Dolan, Ilya Raskin, & Mary Ann Lila
EcoHealth, 8(2):199-209
Key words: Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Wild Berries, Environmental Change, Participatory Research, Youth
People draw upon multiple forms of environmental knowledge, from scientific to highly contextual local or traditional forms of knowledge, to interpret problems and gauge risks in complex socio-ecological systems. In collaboration with three remote Alaska Native communities, and using an interdisciplinary, participatory, and mixed methods research approach, the authors explored traditional ecological knowledge and scientific aspects of wild berries and the broader context of community health and environmental change.

Old Science New Science: Incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Contemporary Management
By: Chuck Striplen & Sarah DeWeerdt
Conservation, 3(3):20-28
Key words: Balaena mysticetus, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Western Science, Barrows, Alaska
Thomas Albert, a biologist and former large animal veterinarian, came to Alaska in 1981 to help develop a census program for the Beaufort-Chukchi-Bering Seas’ (BCB) stock of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus). At the time, detailed ecological information on this species was hard to come by. Albert recalls that because he was unable to find what he needed in books, scientific journals, or academic departments, he began spending many evenings at the home of his friend, Harry Brower, Sr., talking about whales.

Last updated: July 24, 2023