Calista Elders Council

Anchorage, AK, United States

Calista Elders Council

Anchorage, AK, United States
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Fienup-Riordan A.,Calista Elders Council | Brown C.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game | Braem N.M.,Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2013

This paper considers the connections between the social science components of two major multidisciplinary research projects recently carried out in the Eastern Bering Sea: The Bering Ecosystem Study Program (BEST) and the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). Although the primary concern of the larger Integrated Bering Sea Project was oceanographic, a significant effort was made to understand the impacts of changes in the Eastern Bering Sea on coastal communities. We describe our complementary research in Emmonak in order to put the local and traditional knowledge (LTK) survey and interview data gathered during the BSIERP study into ethnographic and historical context to show how important time depth is in the interpretation of LTK. Taking examples from salmon fishing, seal harvesting, and local understandings of place, we argue that a comprehensive ethnographic approach, including both LTK and cultural history, is essential in understanding contemporary Bering Sea coastal communities. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Fienup-Riordan A.,Calista Elders Council | Carmack E.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Oceanography | Year: 2011

This essay shares the broad outlines of Yup'ik and Inuit views of their coastal environment, with special emphasis on the role of sea ice and ocean swells. Near shore conditions in the eastern Bering Sea and Canadian Arctic are used to show how shared knowledge can benefit both local residents and scientists working to better understand coastal processes. We propose a strategy that will allow integration of observations that occur at different scales, required to improve communication between stakeholders in a rapidly changing Arctic. The emerging question is how local observations can be linked to larger environmental issues in ways that speak to both indigenous and Western concerns. © 2011 by The Oceanography Society. All rights reserved.

Fienup-Riordan A.,Calista Elders Council
Polar Geography | Year: 2014

In this paper, I describe a decade of work with the Calista Elders Council (CEC), a non-profit organization, representing the 1900 Yup'ik tradition bearers of the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in southwest Alaska. CEC is the major research organization for the region and is active in documenting Yup'ik traditional knowledge. CEC was established in 1991 by Calista (the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act profit corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta). Mark John (originally from the Nelson Island community of Toksook Bay) became executive director in 1997. Under John's leadership, guided by a nine-member board of elders, the CEC developed a program to address cultural issues, including rapid loss of traditional knowledge. Since 2000, these documentation efforts have been supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and have resulted in 10 major publications, a museum exhibition, two websites, as well as numerous papers and public presentations. Along with these products, CEC has developed a collaborative approach that continues to allow nonnative scientists like myself and Yup'ik community members to work together as we document and share knowledge in new ways. This paper describes both the strengths and limitations of this approach in accomplishing elders' primary goal, i.e. ensuring that their view of the world continue a living tradition. The discussion attempts to go beyond the technical and pragmatic aspects of data management to address ethical and social issues of sharing knowledge. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 865.69K | Year: 2011

Funds are provided for a project in which residents of four Bering Sea communities have joined with other coastal Yupik villages to pursue two closely-related goals:
1) to work with elder experts in collaboration with non-Native scientists and younger community members to produce a holistic documentation of their unique natural history and cultural geography, including traditional place names, weather and ice conditions, harvesting patterns, and animal and plant communities; and
2) to integrate and compare documentation of Yukon Delta natural and cultural
history with existing documentation for Yupik coastal communities to the south, including Hooper Bay and Chevak, Nelson Island communities, and lower
Kuskokwim coastal communities.

The project will provide a model for how Native and non-Native experts can work
together to document the past and, in doing so, better prepare for the future. It is designed to be community-based, built on collaboration at a number of levels, interdisciplinary and comparative, providing a variety of lenses through which to understand Yupik environmental knowledge, holistic in its approach to understanding the dynamics of natural and human history on the Bering Sea coast, and methodologically innovative.

The project will be an important capacity-building process among community members, providing opportunities for local educators and students to work with social and natural scientists in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect. Elder experts and village representatives involvement at every level of the research process ensures that community members voices will be heard. Major project deliverables will include bilingual and ethnographic publications, GIS place name maps and a place-based website for the Bering Sea coast, scientific reports and public presentations, and meeting transcripts in long-lived archives.

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