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Traditional Knowledge and Local Observations
'It's not that simple': A collaborative comparison of sea ice environments, their uses, observed changes, and adaptations in Barrow, Alaska, USA, and Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada
S. Gearheard et al. Ambio (2006) 35(4):203-211. Although generally in agreement or complementary to one another, scientific and indigenous knowledge of sea ice often reflect different perspectives and emphases. Reliable knowledge that can be applied under changing conditions is essential. Collaborative research and firsthand experience are critical to generating such new knowledge.
N.J. Turner, H. Clifton. Global Environmental Change (2009) 19(2):180-190. Many people have noted signs of greater environmental change and challenges to their resilience than they have faced in the past: species declines and new appearances; anomalies in weather patterns; and declining health of forests and grasslands. These observations and perspectives are important to include in discussions and considerations of global climate change.
C. Sakakibara. Polar Record (2009) 45(04):289-303. When the environment is less predictable, the homeland eroded, place-based songs gone, and human-whale integrity threatened, how specifically are these changes manifested in the IÃ±upiat-whale relationship? Providing detailed descriptions of 2005-2006 nalukataq (midsummer whale feasts), this article examines how contemporary IÃ±upiat respond to environmental changes in the emotional and cultural dimensions through their music making.
D. McGregor et al. Pimatisiwin (2010) 8(1):101-123. This paper is based on experiences, views, and stories shared by the 22 participants who spoke at the Research the Indigenous Way workshop at the Northern Governance Policy Research Conference in November 2009. The paper does not address all the issues raised, but rather focuses specifically on how the workshop sheds new light on the nature of alternative indigenous research that would support indigenous governance. (PDF, 257 KB)
H.P. Huntington. Arctic Anthropology (2005) 42(1):29-32. The concept of "traditional knowledge" describes not a single entity, but a diverse and complex set of ways of knowing. Different ways of studying traditional knowledge are more a product of different academic perspectives than of qualities inherent to traditional knowledge. Different approaches are entirely appropriate, if they suit the particular purposes for which traditional knowledge is sought.
W. Eisner et al. Arctic (2009) 62(4):429-442. The authors interviewed IÃ±upiat elders, hunters, and other knowledge-holders in the villages of Barrow and Atqasuk on the western Arctic coastal plain of northern Alaska to gain further insight into the processes governing the ubiquitous lakes and the dynamics of landscape change in this region of continuous permafrost. (PDF, 2.57 MB)
D. Garza. International Journal of Circumpolar Health (2001) 60(4):479-486. The changes in Alaska's ecosystems caused by pollution, contaminants and global climate change are negatively impacting Alaska Natives and rural residents who rely on natural resources for food, culture and community identity.
A resident of the Native village of Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. It's his second time on board the HEALY where he was invited by Chief Scientist, Jackie Grebmeier, to observe and participate in some of the research that was being done during the cruise. [2:09 min]
S.M. McNeeley, M.D. Shulski. Global Environmental Change (2011) 21(2):464-473. The well-being of rural Native communities is still highly dependent on access and ability to harvest wild foods such as salmon and moose, among many others. Over the past decade, communities in the Koyukuk–Middle Yukon (KMY) region of Interior Alaska report an inability to satisfy their needs for harvesting moose before the hunting season closes, citing warmer falls, changing precipitation and water levels, and the regulatory framework as primary causes.
Answers from the ice edge: The consequences of climate change on life in the Bering and Chukchi seas
Report prepared by the Arctic Network in collaboration with Greenpeace Alaska, June 1998. Climate change is a grave threat to northern ecosystems and thus to the subsistence way of life that is the heart of Yup'ik and Inupiat cultures. This report is about changes Alaska Native peoples of the northern Bering and Chukchi seas observe in their surroundings. (PDF, 1.27 MB)
C. Knotsch, J. Lamouche. National Aboriginal Health Organization, March 2010. This report summarizes the many changes Inuit have reported as impacting biodiversity, such as the appearance of insects formerly not seen, and at the same time examines how local knowledge is crucial to adapting to changes in biodiversity. Finally, it discusses the connection between biodiversity and Inuit health and why changes in Arctic biodiversity will mean changes to human life in the Arctic. (PDF, 7 MB)
Above & Beyond, January/February 2012. In Nunavut, the concept of Qaujimajatuqangitat (IQ), a compendium of Inuit traditional knowledge gained and passed down through the generations, is now being applied in areas of social and economic development, governance, and education, based on the principle that better, far more relevant and palatable solutions to some modern issues can and will flow out of closer adherence to ancient Inuit wisdom.
This website incorporates images and information from the Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Includes the film Eye Witness to Change. [5:23 min]
Assessing the impacts of local knowledge and technology on climate change vulnerability in remote communities
C. Bone et al. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2011) 8(3):733-761. A model is developed that simulates how a collection of individual perceptions about changes to climatic-related variables manifest into community perceptions, how perceptions are influenced by the movement away from traditional resource use, and how the transmission of knowledge mitigates the potentially adverse effects of technology-induced distancing. (PDF, 2.25 MB)
L.M. Cockburn. Proceedings of the Fifth Northern Research Forum (2008). Climate change has become an important and politically charged arena where Western scientific knowledge meets traditional indigenous knowledges. How we react and adapt to the threats and challenges of climate change will depend greatly on the philosophical framework(s) through which we understand the world. (PDF, 142 KB)
This 140-page book documents the life of Nizni-Kolyma and Neriungri uluses, two regions of Republic of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia, as seen by the visiting Finnish members of the Snowchange Cooperative. The photos in the book were taken between 2004 and 2009 as part of the joint project "Traditional Knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples of the North of Sakha-Yakutia in the Context of Arctic Climate Change." These two regions maintain nomadic reindeer herding in the setting of rapid arctic climate change, resource development, and cultural change.
D. Whipple. Nature Reports Climate Change, April 24, 2008. Scientists are becoming increasingly open to using local knowledge to understand how climate change could affect the world's most vulnerable, and often inaccessible, regions.
M. Nallainathan. Canadian Women's Health Network (2009). These days, there is a growing reticence to go out onto the land. With the warmer climate and changes in ice formation, the ability to skidoo on the ice and reach natural resources has diminished. So, there are fewer opportunities to access wild food and to experience that connection and rejuvenation of being out on the land. Women's insights about climate change come from their experiences traveling, hunting, harvesting, hanging fish and laundry outdoors to dry, and raising their families.
E. Weatherhead et al. Global Environmental Change (2010) 20(3):523-528. Since the 1990s, local residents from around the Arctic have reported changes in weather predictability. Examination of environmental measurements have not, until now, helped describe what the local inhabitants have been reporting, in part because prior studies did not focus directly on the persistence aspect of weather. Here, authors provide evidence of changes in persistence in weather over the past two decades for Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada.
The 2008 Society for Advancing Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) national conference was one of the largest International Polar Year focused events in the world. Changes We Have Seen captures some of the most important dialogue on traditional knowledge and climate change from this historic conference.
Chapter 3 of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, ACIA Secretariat and Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2005. This chapter reviews the concept of indigenous knowledge, summarizes those indigenous observations of environmental and climatic change that have been documented to date, and presents a series of case studies, largely from hunting and herding societies, examining the perspectives of specific communities or peoples. (PDF, 1.37 MB)
E. Quinn. Eye on the Arctic (2010). The Siku-Inuit-Hila Project was started by Canadian scientist Shari Gearheard and funded by the National Science Foundation in the United States. The name of the project means "Sea Ice - People - Weather." The objective of the project is to document the changing relationship of Inuit to the sea ice.
S.E. van der Leeuw. Ambio (2008) 37(sp14):476-482. One needs to look at the combined socio-environmental systems over the longer term that reflect the buildup and culmination of shifts in social and environmental risk spectra due to the human-environmental interactions in periods before the "crisis" occurs, which are a fact of life in any society's interaction with its environment, and should be seen as "social" challenges rather than "environmental" ones.
Center for Climate and Health, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. This report describes climate impacts observed in Point Hope, Alaska. It relies upon the observations, data and traditional ecological knowledge provided by local partners. Additionally, scientific data on environment, health and climate is provided where available. The purpose is to describe changes that are occurring so as to help in the development of adaptive strategies that encourage community health and resilience. Published October 2009 (PDF, 6.83 MB, archived webpage)
Report published by Northwest Indian Applied Research Institute (NIARI), 2006. Native nations of the Arctic and Subarctic are already feeling catastrophic effects of warmer temperatures, in the melting of sea ice, permafrost, and glaciers, and increase in fires, insects, flooding, and drought patterns. (PDF, 1.76 MB)
T. Nichols et al. Arctic (2004) 57(1):68-79. In the small Inuvialuit community of Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, the authors interviewed all of the 16 community members and elders considered to be local experts on sea ice to ask about their observations. (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Climate change and the Inuvialuit of Banks Island, NWT: Using traditional environmental knowledge to complement Western science
D. Riedlinger. Arctic (1999) 52(4):430-432. The extensive use and knowledge of the land found in Inuvialuit communities provide a distinctive source of environmental expertise--expertise that is guided by generations of experience. Environmental change associated with variations in weather and climate has not gone unnoticed by northerners who are experiencing such change firsthand. (PDF, 1.48 MB)
M. Tremblay et al. Arctic (2008) 61(1):27-34. Arctic communities are recently reporting warmer and shorter winters, which have implications for the ice season and, consequently, on the access to local territories and resources by members of these communities. These climatic shifts are resulting in increased risks for travel during the winter season associated with less stable and thinner ice. (PDF, 2.18 MB)
In this 2007 YouTube video, elders in the Native village of Unalakleet, Alaska, talk about changes in the environment that they have noticed in recent years. [1:18 min]
This project is a collaboration between the Oral History Program and the Observing Locally, Connecting Globally (OLCG) teacher education project. Since one of OLCG's goals was to introduce teachers to the climate change observations of local experts, OLCG invited Caleb Pungowiyi of St. Lawrence Island to share his knowledge at a teacher workshop in Fairbanks. This initial presentation was recorded by the Oral History project and provided the inspiration for development of the Climate Change Jukebox Project.
Climate change, wellbeing and resilience in the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck: The moccasin telegraph goes global
H. Lemelin et al. Rural Remote Health (2010) 10(2):1333. This article describes the analysis of 22 interviews conducted with members of the Weenusk First Nation at Peawanuck in northern Ontario. Findings indicate that residents are concerned with a variety of changes in the environment and their ability to use the land. Possible impacts of these changes on the community's wellbeing and resiliency are examined.
Native American communities in Alaska are providing important information that helps scientists downscale climate change models, giving us a clearer picture of how changes will impact specific locations. This marriage of traditional Native American knowledge and academic research is benefiting us all. [4:11 min]
Climate variability, oceanography, bowhead whale distribution, and IÃ±upiat subsistence whaling near Barrow, Alaska
C.J. Ashjian et al. Arctic (2010) 63(2):179-194. The annual migration of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) past Barrow, Alaska, has provided subsistence hunting to IÃ±upiat for centuries. Bowheads recurrently feed on aggregations of zooplankton prey near Barrow in autumn. The mechanisms that form these aggregations, and the associations between whales and oceanography, were investigated using field sampling, retrospective analysis, and traditional knowledge interviews. (PDF, 8.27 MB)
In the Climate Witness projects sponsored by WWF, people can tell their stories about how they're experiencing the changes in climate and what it means to them.
This page links to the original audio recorded during the Elders' Panel of the Climate, Language, and Indigenous Perspectives conference held August 13-15, 2008, in Fairbanks, hosted by the Alaska Native Language Center and the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy. The recordings are password protected; with permission, you can access them.
A. Whiting et al., Alaska Sea Grant, 2011, 71 pages. This book brings together traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge to present a comprehensive understanding of species and environmental processes in Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska.
Community monitoring of environmental change: College-based limnological studies at Crazy Lake (Tasirluk), Nunavut
M.G. Dyck. Arctic (2007) 60(1):55-61. In light of the difficult logistics and high cost of polar research into climate change, involvement of local people can contribute immensely to important data collection. One can use the knowledge and skills of human resources that are already presentâteachers, students, and community members. (PDF, 1.87 MB)
A. Karst, report commissioned by the Canadian Boreal Initiative, the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Boreal Songbird Initiative, 2010. The traditional territories of hundreds of Aboriginal communities are within the Canadian Boreal region. The Boreal has significant ethnobotanical importance to indigenous people from this region, and their connections to this landscape are both utilitarian and sacred. Boreal plants currently face widespread human-induced pressures including habitat loss and climate change. (PDF, 5.7 MB)
Constructing confidence: Rational skepticism and systematic enquiry in local ecological knowledge research
A. Davis, K. Ruddle. Ecological Applications (2010) 20(3)880-894. Key attributes of the social research contributions on indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK), local ecological knowledge (LEK), and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) are analyzed using the most frequently cited literature generated by the "ISI Web of Knowledge" and "Google Scholar" search engines.
D. Riedlinger, F. Berkes. Polar Record (2001) 37(203):315-328. Environmental change associated with variations in weather and climate has not gone unnoticed by communities that are experiencing change firsthand. Based in part on a collaborative research project in Sachs Harbour, western Canadian Arctic, this paper discusses five areas in which traditional knowledge may complement scientific approaches to understanding climate change in the Canadian Arctic.
As part of University of Alaska Fairbanks' Project Jukebox, a 2004 NSF-funded workshop brought together local community members and scientists to share observations about changes in Interior Alaska river and lake ice conditions.
Environmental change and traditional use of the Old Crow Flats in northern Canada: An IPY opportunity to meet the challenges of the new northern research paradigm
B.B. Wolfe et al. Arctic (2011) 64(1):127-135. The authors describe the evolution of a community-researcher partnership that defines the Government of Canada International Polar Year (IPY) investigation on "Environmental Change and Traditional Use of the Old Crow Flats in northern Canada (Yeendoo Nanh Nakhweenjit K'atr'ahanahtyaa)," hereafter referred to as YNNK, one of very few fully endorsed programs led by northern-based individuals or aboriginal organizations in Canada. (PDF, 5.27 MB)
Eternal kantele at the end of time: Reflections on retraditionalization of traditional knowledge in the face of rapid ecological changes in the Arctic
T. Mustonen. Proceedings of the Fourth Northern Research Forum (2006). This paper looks at the role of traditional knowledge and revitalization attempts of this knowledge in the face of rapid social and ecological changes in the Arctic, more specifically in the context of human-induced Arctic climate collapse. :(PDF, 300 KB)
N.G. Maynard et al. NASA Technical Report, 2008. Eurasian reindeer herders have created the EALAT project, a comprehensive new initiative to study the impacts of climate change and to develop local adaptation strategies based upon their traditional knowledge of the land and its usesâin targeted partnership with the science and remote sensing communityâinvolving extensive collaborations and coproduction of knowledge to minimize the impacts of the various changes. (PDF, 1.56 MB)
NPR's "Morning Edition," September 6, 2010. Archaeologist Ben Potter of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, thinks of ancient sites of human habitation as a laboratory to understand how humans coped "when they're pushed to their limit, or when they are approaching an environment that they're not equipped for biologically." Aron Crowell, Alaska Director of the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center, states, "It's easy to see that it's not individual intelligence that makes us so good at adapting. It's an important component, but we also need the ability to accumulate knowledge gradually over a whole population of people over hundreds or maybe even thousands of years."
The goal of ELOKA is to facilitate the collection, preservation, exchange, and use of local observations and knowledge of the Arctic by providing data management and user support, and to foster collaboration between local and international researchers.
Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, 2011. These three short videos showcase the dramatic changes in Alaska's marine ecosystems through interviews with scientists and Alaska Natives. They were produced in partnership with Alaska Ocean Observing System, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, and COSEE Alaska.\ These interviews requires the use of the QuickTime, which can be downloaded from QuickTime's Web site at no charge. Introduction to Climate Change (MP4) [5:55 min] Disappearing Sea Ice (MP4) [10:45 min] Life on the Ice (MP4) [7:33 min]
In this YouTube slideshow, three high school students from Kwigillingok, Alaska, share their personal stories of how climate change is affecting their villageâand their lives. [4:28 min]
Generation and transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills in adaptation to climate change in the Arctic
T. Pearce. Proceedings of the Fifth Northern Research Forum (2008). This paper outlines the rationale and objectives of research that documents and describes how environmental knowledge and land skills are generated and transmitted among Inuit in an Arctic community, and investigates how this influences adaptation to climate change. (PDF, 1.44 KB)
J. Cruikshank. Arctic (2001) 54(4):377-393. Academic debates, whether in science or in history, too often evaluate local expertise as data or evidence, rather than as knowledge or theory that might contribute different perspectives to academic questions. (PDF, 803.3 KB)
There is a rich history of scientific research in the Alaskan arctic. Fieldwork can interrupt subsistence hunting or disturb species protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act or Endangered Species Act. These Guidelines (2004) were drafted by the Arctic Sciences Section of the Office of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium in order to help researchers attain the objectives adopted in 1984 by the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee and the Polar Research Board. (PDF, 701.1 KB)
G.J. Laidler, P. Elee. Polar Record (2008) 44(01):51-76. This paper provides insights into local-scale ice conditions and dynamics around Cape Dorset that are not captured in regional-scale studies of Hudson Bay and/or Hudson Strait. Results have the potential to inform future research efforts on local/regional sea ice monitoring, the relationship between Inuit knowledge, language, and the environment, and addressing community interests through targeted studies.
Hunting, herding, fishing, and gathering: Indigenous peoples and renewable resource use in the Arctic
Chapter 12 (pages 649-690) of ACIA Scientific Report, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Climatic variability and weather affect the abundance and availability of animals and thus the abilities and opportunities to harvest and process animals for food, clothing, and other purposes. Arctic communities experience forces that threaten to restrict harvesting activities and sever these relationships. (PDF, 666.3 KB)
A. Salomon et al., University of Alaska Press, 2011, 123 pages. Through the lens of Western science and traditional Native knowledge, art, and photography, the authors uncover some of the ecological, social, and economic causes of coastal ecosystem change on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.
D. Green, G. Raygorodetsky. Climatic Change (2010) 100(2):239-242. Much of the world's remaining diversity—biological, ecosystem, landscape, cultural, and linguistic—resides in indigenous territories. Indigenous peoples play a significant role in maintaining locally resilient social-ecological systems. Despite the recent adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, indigenous people remain largely excluded from the official UN climate negotiations. (PDF, 145 KB)
Publication by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Oxford, 2007. Indigenous and other local peoples are vital and active parts of many ecosystems and may help to enhance the resilience of these ecosystems. In addition, they interpret and react to climate change impacts in creative ways, drawing on traditional knowledge as well as new technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large to cope with the impending changes. (PDF, 1.65 MB)
Indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge related to biological diversity and responses to climate change in the Arctic region
Brochure published by Ministry of the Environment of Finland, 2009. While the results of scientific studies on the impacts of climate change on Arctic species and ecosystems are useful, they present only one snapshot of a vast and complex system. Indigenous and traditional knowledge from the Arctic region reveals another view of life and lifestyles under threat. (PDF, 1.36 MB)
Video recording (October 2011) of a discussion between practitioners of both indigenous and western science seeking to address climate and environmental challenges facing the planet. Panelists include indigenous partners featured in the exhibition "Conversations with the Earth: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change" and representatives from NASA, NOAA, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, United Nations Development Program, United Nations University, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. EPA.[3:30:27 min]
Inuit and scientific perspectives on the relationship between sea ice and climate change: The ideal complement?
G.J. Laidler. Climatic Change (2006) 78(2-4):407-444. This paper explores the relationship between sea ice and climate change from both scientific and Inuit perspectives. Based on an overview of diverse literature, the experiences, methods, and goals which differentiate local and scientific sea ice knowledge are examined.
T.B. Leduc. Ecological Economics (2006) 60(1):27-35. This paper proposes that market economic rationality limits the general Western approach towards climate change and indigenous knowledge.
E. Gertz, Grist, July 26, 2005. Read about Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Canadian Inuit activist and chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.
This new documentary, the world's first Inuktitut-language film on the topic, takes the viewer "on the land" with elders and hunters to explore the social and ecological impacts of a warming Arctic. Read more about the project in this CBC News article.
D. Braun, National Geographic Daily News, August 18, 2011. In this video interview, Martin Lougheed of the Inuit Quajisarvingat Knowledge Center, Ottawa, Canada, makes the case for blending Inuit traditional knowledge with Western science to help understand and find solutions to sweeping changes in the Arctic.
H. Davies. Thesis submitted to the School of Environmental Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, November 2007. As in many arctic regions, impacts of increasing environmental stressors such as climate change and industrialization (particularly mineral exploration and mine development) have led local Inuit in northern Labrador to notice changes in their environment. In addition, they have expressed concerns that research and monitoring programs aimed at understanding and tracking these changes are lacking in many areas and do not accurately reflect their knowledge and concerns..
Given the dramatic changes that local people have observed, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Hunters and Trappers Committee of Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, initiated a year-long project to document the problem of Arctic climate change and communicate it to Canadian and international audiences. This webpage has links to a summary video. Find the final project report, here. (PDF, 310 KB)
C. Buijs. Inuit Studies (2010) 34(1):39-54. This paper examines how the Tunumiit of East Greenland perceive the weather, the changing climate, and the local environment. It also discusses how their perceptions have been influenced by political debates on global warming, sustainable development, and wildlife management since the 1950s.
ISIUOP is a collaborative project investigating the importance, uses, and knowledge of sea ice from the perspective of northern communities and Inuit experts. (Archived version of webpage)
Inuit vulnerability and adaptive capacity to climate change in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada
T. Pearce et al. Polar Record (2010) 46(02):157-177. Climate change is already being experienced in the Arctic with implications for ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. This paper argues that an assessment of community vulnerability to climate change requires knowledge of past experience with climate conditions, responses to climatic variations, future climate change projections, and non-climate factors that influence people's susceptibility and adaptive capacity.
Investigating the effects of environmental change on Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) growth using scientific and Inuit traditional knowledge
J.A. Knopp. Arctic (2010) 63(4):493-497. Arctic char is an important biological indicator of climate change in the Arctic because it is the only freshwater fish that has a circumpolar distribution and uses a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including marine, river, and lake environments. With his PhD research, the author hopes to provide the opportunity to exchange information and concepts of Western science and Inuit traditional knowledge and to assist directly with the monitoring and management of local fish resources. (PDF, 1.66 MB)
Linking Inuit knowledge and meteorological station observations to understand changing wind patterns at Clyde River, Nunavut
S. Gearheard et al. Climatic Change (2010) 100(2):267-294. Inuit in many parts of Nunavut are reporting changes in wind patterns in recent years. At Clyde River, a community on the eastern coast of Baffin Island, Inuit have observed that at least three key aspects of wind have changed over the last few decades: wind variability, wind speed, and wind direction.
BBC News, July 10, 2006. People in the Arctic are living at the front line of climate change. BBC reporter Doreen Walton spent two months living and hunting with an Inupiat family in Barrow, Alaska, to see how the changes affect their daily lives. This is her three-part diary.
This is a webpage of the North Pacific Research Board. LTK offers much in the context of research in the North Pacific by adding more information and new perspectives for understanding marine ecosystems. (Archived version of webpage)
C. Peloquin, F. Berkes. Human Ecology (2009) 37(5):533-545. This paper examines how indigenous Cree hunters in James Bay, subarctic Canada, understand and deal with ecological complexity and dynamics, and how their understanding of uncertainty and variability shape subsistence activities.
Mapping land cover change in a reindeer herding area of the Russian Arctic using Landsat TM and ETM+ imagery and indigenous knowledge
W.G. Rees et al. Remote Sensing of Environment (2003) 85(4):441-452. Traditionally, the tundra and the northern fringes of the boreal forest of northern Europe have been occupied by indigenous peoples whose main economic activity is reindeer herding. Groups of herders accompany their animals as they follow the annual changes in vegetation. As well as climate change, the ecology has been substantially affected by social changes that have had a marked effect on the relationship between reindeer, herder, and pasture.
D.C. Natcher et al. Arctic Anthropology (2007) 44(2):113-126. For anthropologists who are involved in Arctic climate change research, methodologies tend to reflect a culturally based assumption that there exists a single characterization of time and sentience that applies to all Arctic residents. Based on collaborative research with the Koyukon community of Huslia, Alaska, this paper challenges that assumption.
Science Daily, September 13, 2011. Personal interviews with Alaska Natives in the Yukon River Basin provide unique insights on climate change and its impacts, helping develop adaptation strategies for these local communities.
Observations on shorefast ice dynamics in Arctic Alaska and the responses of the IÃ±upiat hunting community
G.C. George et al. Arctic (2004) 57(4):363-374. Nearshore ice conditions can change suddenly, endangering even the most experienced subsistence hunter. (PDF, 2.18 MB)
This NOVA video series explores the past and future of the fast-changing Bering Sea region, its culture and people, and the new polar science that is emerging from an expedition on board the Coast Guard cutter Healy.
Pacific walruses, indigenous hunters, and climate change: Bridging scientific and indigenous knowledge
I. Krupnik, G.C. Ray. Deep-Sea Research II (2007). This paper presents and evaluates two perspectives on changing climate-walrus-human relationships in the Beringian region, from the viewpoints of marine biology and ecology, and from that of indigenous hunters. Bridging these types of knowledge is vital in order to grasp the complexity of the processes involved. (PDF, 407 KB)
Pausing along the journey: Learning landscapes, environmental change, and toponymy amongst the Sikusilarmiut
A. Henshaw. Arctic Anthropology (2006) 43(1):52-66. Sikusilarmiut toponymy can help inform broader scientific narratives about changing Arctic environments. Sikusilarmiut place names reflect Inuit multisensory notions of place and provide insight into the changing movements of people across the land, sea, and ice on a seasonal basis.
The Circle (2010), Issue 2. The Circle is published quarterly by the WWF International Arctic Programme. This issue focuses on the people living in the Arctic; how their lives are influenced by the dramatic changes occurring in the region as temperatures reach record high levels, the sea ice is melting with an alarming speed, and countries and companies compete for access to the wealth of Arctic resources; how people of the North cope with and adapt to these changes; and the role of traditional knowledge in these processes today. (PDF, 4.67 MB)
L. Alessa et al. Global Environmental Change (2008) 18(1):153-164. This paper provides empirical evidence to support existing anecdotal studies regarding the mechanisms by which human communities become vulnerable to rapid changes in freshwater resources on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Authors discuss the role of collective knowledge, through the transmission of knowledge from elders to subsequent generations, in aiding the development of a community's ability to note and respond to changes in critical natural resources.
SÃ¡mi traditional ecological knowledge as a guide to science: Snow, ice and reindeer pasture facing climate change
J.Å. Riseth et al. Polar Research (2011) 47(3):202-217. Scientific studies of challenges of climate change could be improved by including other sources of knowledge, such as traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), in this case relating to the Sámi. This study focuses on local variations in snow and ice conditions, effects of the first durable snow, and long-term changes in snow and ice conditions as prerequisites for understanding potential future changes. (PDF, 176 KB)
Science meets traditional knowledge: Water and climate in the Sahtu (Great Bear Lake) Region, Northwest Territories, Canada
M-K Woo et al. Arctic (2007) 60(1):37-46. In July 2005, several scientists from the Mackenzie GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment) Study, known as MAGS, met with aboriginal people in Deline on the shore of Great Bear Lake to exchange information on climate and water in the region. (PDF, 1.94 MB)
T. Hansen. Mother Earth Journal (online). April 23, 2010. For the last 15 years the Inuit have reported that Arctic weather has been less stable and more unpredictable. Now, scientists are listening.
SIKU is one of several IPY 2007-2008 projects aimed at documenting indigenous observations of environmental changes in the polar areas, with its specific focus on sea ice and the use of ice-covered habitats by the residents of the Arctic. Incidentally, the project's acronym SIKU is also the most common word for sea ice (siku) in all Eskimo/Inuit languages, from Chukotka to Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. (Archived version of webpage)
Video from Isuma TV. Sheila Watt-Cloutier delivers her keynote at Health Canada's - First Nation and Inuit Health Branch - Pan-Arctic Results Workshop, held in Ottawa February 7-10, 2011. This speech navigates the global and local decision-making and impacts of climate change, weaving together human rights and ecological and governance issues, all within Watt-Cloutier's unique indigenous perspective. [6:02:23 min]
M. Dowsley et al. Inuit Studies (2010) 34(1):151-165. The authors' research indicates that gender helps shape Inuit knowledge of environmental change, as well as social responses to perceptions of change. By examining women's perceptions of environmental change, they draw attention to the social aspects and also highlight how women can contribute to adaptation, not only to physical changes but also to the resulting social changes.
PBS Online NewsHour, May 11, 2005. Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News examines how global warming is affecting those who live in the Arctic.
I. Krupnik, D. Jolly (eds.), Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, 2002. This is a link to the table of contents, foreword, and introduction of a 384-page book that documents Native observations of current environmental change across the Arctic, from weather to sea ice to caribou to marine mammals to permafrost to plant communities. Local experts interpret shifts, transitions, and abnormal events in their familiar habitats.
The effects of environmental change on an Arctic Native community: Evaluation using local cultural perceptions
J. McBeath, C.E. Shepro. American Indian Quarterly (2007) 31(1):44-65. This article presents the research conducted by the authors in an Inupiat Eskimo village on the Alaska North Slope. The authors describe changes observed by subsistence hunters and fishers and discuss how village residents have responded to change.
This film is an entry to a micro-documentary film contest, 'Vulnerability Exposed: Social Dimensions of Climate Change.'
A multimedia documentation of the effect of climate change on the island of Shishmaref in Alaska, which will soon be moved as the ocean claims the island.
The melting ice cellar: What Native traditional knowledge is teaching us about global warming and environmental change
P.L. Cochran, A.L. Geiler. American Journal of Public Health (2002) 92(9):1404-1409. As far back as the 1970s, Alaska Native communities reported changes we now know to be associated with global warming, such as changing weather patterns, thinning ice, diseased and deformed wildlife, and changes in the look and taste of such subsistence foods as fish and meat.
C. Wohlforth. North Point Press, 2004, 322 pages. Climate change is not an abstraction in the far north. It is a reality that has already altered daily life for Native people who still live largely off the land and sea. Likewise, its heavy Arctic footprint has lured scientists seeking to uncover its mysteries. Charles Wohlforth follows both groups as they navigate a radically shifting landscape.
PBS NewsHour Science Report, April 24, 2007. From the thinning Arctic sea ice to the softening permafrost and the northern migration of indigenous animals, scientists and Arctic dwellers are taking note of the gradual impacts of climate change. In one area in particular, Inuit hunters are helping inform local weather record-keepers about a phenomenon occurring in the sky. (Archived version of webpage)
J. Salick, N. Ross. Global Environmental Change (2009) 19(2):137-139. Indigenous and other local peoples are vital and active parts of many ecosystems and may help to enhance the resilience of these ecosystems. In addition, they interpret and react to climate change impacts in creative ways, drawing on traditional knowledge as well as new technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large to cope with the impending changes.
Transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills among Inuit men in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada
T. Pearce et al. Human Ecology (2011) 39(3):271-288. The transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills was studied among Inuit men in Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada. A list of 83 skills important for safe and successful harvesting was generated with 14 active hunters and elders, and examined with a sample of 47 men. This research found that land skills continue to be transmitted most often from older to younger generations through observation and apprenticeship in the environment.
Videos and other formats illustrate the importance of traditional knowledge in the study of climate change and its impacts.
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments at Laval University, and the Ajunnginiq Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization, in cooperation with the regional Inuit organizations and communities and other partners, conducted a series of workshops focused on environmental change and what it means for communities in the four Inuit regions of the Canadian Arctic. These workshops were held from 2002 to 2005 following an International Institute for Sustainable Development research initiative in Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, in 2001. This book presents the results from these workshops. (PDF, 3.6 MB)
Using traditional knowledge to adapt to ecological change: DenÃ©solinÃ© monitoring of caribou movements
B. Parlee et al. Arctic (2005) 58(1):26-37. Many generations ago, DenÃ©solinÃ© hunters learned that by observing caribou at key water crossings during the fall migration they could obtain critical information about caribou health, population, and movement patterns. :(PDF, 536 KB)
Water and ice-related phenomena in the coastal region of the Beaufort Sea: Some parallels between Native experience and Western science
E. Carmack and R. MacDonald. Arctic (2008) 61(3):265-280. Information gained through Native experience is combined here with scientific measurements to describe aspects of the wintertime oceanography of the Eskimo Lakes and Mackenzie River delta regions of the Canadian Beaufort Sea. (PDF, 406 KB)
S. Fox, National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2003. In this interactive, multi-media CD-ROM, Inuit from two communities, Baker Lake (Qamani'tuaq) and Clyde River (Kangiktugaapik) in Nunavut, Canada, share their observations and perspectives on recent environmental changes.
G. Raygorodetsky, United Nations University, December 13, 2011. Although indigenous peoples' "low-carbon" traditional ways of life have contributed little to climate change, indigenous peoples are the most adversely affected by it. This is largely a result of their historic dependence on local biological diversity, ecosystem services, and cultural landscapes as a source of sustenance and well-being.
NPR's "All Things Considered," April 19, 2008. Reporter Libby Casey traveled to Arctic Village, Alaska, and talked with Matthew Gilbert about Gwich'in observations of climate change.
A. Fienup-Riordan. Inuit Studies (2010) 34(1):55-70. The Nelson Island Natural and Cultural History Project originated in the desire of community members in the Yup'ik villages of Chefornak, Nightmute, Toksook Bay, Tununak, and Newtok to document and share their history with their younger generation. To do so, they invited non-Native scientists to join them in village gatherings as well as on a three-week circumnavigation of Nelson Island (Alaska), during which elders reflected on changes in weather patterns, animal migrations, sea-ice conditions, and related harvesting activities.