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Nome, Alaska, United States

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 301.39K | Year: 2011

The ice seal and walrus populations of the Bering Sea, as well as the subsistence users who utilize them, currently face many challenges. These include loss of sea ice and the expansion of development, fisheries activities, and marine shipping in the northern Bering Sea. Concern over the future of these species is growing, but existing science cannot conclusively predict how these factors will affect ice seals and walrus or the communities that depend on them. Local knowledge of the ecology and biogeography of these species, in addition to local use patterns, may help communities and policy makers understand current and future impacts of these environmental and anthropogenic changes.

This is a community based research project through Kawerak Inc., the Alaska Native regional non-profit corporation. As part of this project, Kawerak researchers will be working with local community members to implement ethnographic and GIS spatial mapping methods in order to increase our understanding of Bering Strait region Iñupiat, Central Yupik, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik relationships with two important subsistence resources, ice seals and walrus whose habitat is being affected by environmental change. Through mapping spatial and temporal knowledge of ice seal and walrus habitat and ecology and subsistence use area, documenting the cultural importance of hunting ice seals and walrus, as well as the challenges to subsistence ice seal and walrus hunting (as seen by hunters), the project will contribute to an increased understanding of the complexity of social-environmental dynamics in the Arctic. The project will give a voice to local analyses and solutions of these problems which will in turn inform wildlife managers and policy makers. In addition, the project will contribute to an Arctic Atlas of Important Ecological Areas (IEAs) being developed by the international conservation group Oceana, which will in turn be a tool for the regions communities.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 30.00K | Year: 2016

This award supports a workshop designed to explore indigenous perspectives on scientific research and research processes in western Alaska. The workshop will focus on: a) the types of scientific research being conducted in and near indigenous communities of the Kawerak region; b) how these studies are being conducted, whether collaboratively with communities or not; c) and to elicit the impressions and suggestions of indigenous communities about the science being conducted in their region and how they might engage more directly with the scientists and their projects.

The workshop will bring together approximately 20 individuals, most of whom will be Alaska Native people from western Alaska who are involved in scientific research and knowledgeable of the research being conducted in the region. Additional workshop participants will include other science research stakeholders, including some of the scientists doing research in the region. The workshop organizers will structure the multi-day workshop around the topics and objectives outlined above. A report summarizing and analyzing the results of the workshop will be produced which addresses the main research topics and questions and suggests avenues for future research on this topic. An additional goal for the workshop is to lay some of the groundwork for a full research project that would be a meta-study of scientific research in Alaska Native communities from an anthropological perspective.

In addition, the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), Ship Operations Program, is contributing to the workshop; the Kawerak Region is on the Bering Sea and the program is very interested in ways that ship-based science can engage local people, primarily Alaska Native communities, in their research projects. These specific questions will be one of the topics of discussion for the workshop.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 232.75K | Year: 2014

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