CRRC 2020 Q1 Newsletter
CRRC has been busy these last few months! Take a look below to see what staff have been up to. We also include other regional and noteworthy news.
Chugach Regional Resources Commission’s fearless and dedicated leader,
Patty Schwalenberg, enjoying time outside with Zoe.
Together, we have accomplished much. As the first ever and longest standing inter-tribal fish and wildlife commission in the state, we were there as a member of the Alaska Native Halibut Working Group to provide our input when halibut was declared a subsistence species. We were there as a member of the Migratory Bird Working Group to set the regulations for the subsistence harvest of migratory birds during the spring and summer. As a result of our leadership, CRRC was selected by the ten members of the Native Caucus to manage this state-wide program, which is the best model for co-management in Alaska. With your help and guidance, we assisted in building a fish hatchery in Port Graham and a world class shellfish hatchery and marine science research center in Seward that is the leader in culturing shellfish species and the only facility to provide real-time data on ocean acidification. We developed mariculture farms in Tatitlek and Cordova, and grow-out facilities in Chenega, as well as facilitated the development of the sockeye enhancement program in Nanwalek.
Over the years, we have been successful at increasing meaningful involvement in research, restoration, and monitoring efforts in relation to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, worked with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Subsistence Division to conduct regular harvest assessments of all subsistence resources in the region, assisted all the Tribes along the Trans Alaska Pipeline System transportation corridor to establish a tribal coalition to address the reauthorization of the right-of-way, and developed long-standing partnerships and relationships with Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and state and federal agencies along the way.
We worked with you, the people of the Chugach, to develop the first ever Tribal Natural Resource Education Program in the State of Alaska, including the development of curricula and training materials. We worked with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks to accredit the program, which is now a part of their College of Rural Alaska and the courses are listed in their course catalog. Working with Native professors, natural resource managers, elders, and educators from across Indian Country, we also worked to develop a university level textbook on Tribal Natural Resource Management, showcasing Tribal programs, the importance of Indigenous knowledge, and how Tribal philosophies of management are integral to western science. We also worked with education professionals to develop a K-12 science curriculum that reflects Alaska Native beliefs, values and understandings of the natural world and science education standards. This culturally-based natural resource science curriculum enhanced Alaska Native students’ education and motivation to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in the sciences and natural resource management.
In 1999, at your request, we conducted the first annual Gathering of Tribes from the Chugach Region, which has been ongoing since 1999. The annual Subsistence Memorial Gathering has been held nearly every spring since then, and has been a highlight of the region, hosting up to 700 participants in one year, and providing culturally relevant activities, such as Chugach Region dance groups, a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of friends and relatives who have passed on, and a potluck consisting wholly of subsistence foods from the region.
Understanding the importance of subsistence foods and caring for the ecosystems that support those foods, together we developed a Food Security/Food Sovereignty program, identifying those species that are more susceptible to climate change and identifying an adaptation strategy should those resources be lost. In addition, we are also integrally involved in the challenges and issues surrounding our changing climate and environment, so that we are better prepared to shape the future for our children and grandchildren and the 7 generations to come.
Yes, it has been an adventure. An adventure I would not have had the opportunity to be a part of had it not been for your support, guidance, input, ideas, willingness to welcome me into this region and into your homes, making me truly feel a part of the Chugach Region family. For that I am truly grateful. You will always hold a special place in my heart. My cup runneth over.
Growing up in Port Graham, a village only reachable by small plane or boat from Homer, Vanessa Norman always knew she would wind up working for the betterment of Alaska Native people.
“It’s what my whole family has done: serve, volunteer and give back to the community. I’ve got great role models, and they’ve instilled those values in me,” says Norman.
“I find it really rewarding to get together as a group to support each other and talk about the issues we face,” says Norman. “There are so few minority attorneys, and what we see nationally is that it’s hard to keep them at private law firms. So I think it’s important to come together as a group to find solutions to reduce attrition and to help each other build rewarding careers.”
Written by Matt Jardin, UAA Office of University Advancement
Community members attending the CRRC-hosted GIS training at the BIA office in Anchorage.
Left to right: Naomi McMullen (Port Graham), Cybill Berestoff (Nanwalek), Priscilla Evans (Nanwalek), Rachel Fischer (CRRC).
Chugach Regional Resources Commission was able to partner with the BIA to provide a two-day GIS training for community members!
The Branch of Geospatial Support (BOGS) provides geospatial training for employees of federally recognized tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) employees within the Office of Trust Services (OTS). The Principles of GIS Using ArcGIS Pro is a two-day technical course developed by the BIA. Students will develop basic software skills by working with ArcGIS Pro to symbolize and create a basic map. This course is excellent for individuals who do not have any prior GIS education or workplace experience, GIS support staff, and anyone else who needs to understand how GIS fits into their organization.
Nine total people from the region were able to attend the training, five being from CRRC’s member tribes. Below are some quotes from attendees about the training!
“I just want to say I enjoyed this training and thankful that CRRC offered this to me. I attended a training at the BIA building from 8:30 am to 4 pm on September 10th and 11th. The training was on doing maps in layers on a computer. This was quite confusing at first because I am not computer literate, but as I went along and bugged the young person next to me it was making more sense. This would be great to use on our graves and keeping them on data with using GIS or mapping, this would be great for keeping the history on our graves. Anyway I am still not that familiar with GIS or making layers on a map, but if I practice it more with other people I think it would be easier to understand. I got to make a map using the Navajo Nation as a practice even putting the sizes and depths of the site. But like I said I am still not too familiar with GIS and would like to practice till I understand it fully. I think two days of doing this was not enough for someone like me who’s not very good at using a computer. Like I said this would be useful on keeping tract on graves for Tribes and other projects dealing with land. Quyana” – Priscilla Evans, Nanwalek
“Being a part of this training has opened my eyes to the amount of information that is out there for mapping and has made me want to learn more about how to be more in depth with the maps that I can create. I think that sending our community members to these training will help greatly since the new age is all about technology. Being able to connect with people from around the world and to look at their maps to get ideas on how it can better their community is so important. I’m glad to have been a part of this and hope to learn more with available trainings.” – Naomi McMullen, Port Graham
“The Native Village of Eyak Department of the Environment and Natural Resources had two employees participate in CRRC hosted GIS training taught by the BIA-branch of Geospatial Support. Geospatial information can play an important role in NVE’s natural resources and environmental work. Projects benefitting from this training include fisheries and wildlife monitoring and research, watershed mapping, streamflow monitoring, as well as glacial depth and movement monitoring. A geospatial database provides a platform for analyzing data and maps provide an effective tool for communicating data. This technology allows NVE to document historical and baseline data, keep track of changes, and model what the future may hold for the lands, waters, and inhabitants of NVE’s traditional use area”. – Matt Piche, Natural Resources Coordinator & Fish Biologist, Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, Native Village of Eyak, Cordova, AK.
“The GIS training was very beneficial for me to attend on behalf of the Native Village of Eyak. We are planning to use this training as a stepping stone to become more familiar with the program in order to help achieve some of our goals as an organization. We plan to use GIS to visualize and analyze beach erosion monitoring, marine debris cleanups including the use of drones, underground contamination mapping, glacier recession, stream bed movements, and whatever other projects come our way. I’m amazed at the capabilities of this program, and am very thankful to the CRRC for organizing the training. I can’t say enough good things about the instructor or the class, so thank you!” – James Paley, Eyak, Cordova, AK.
“I learned a lot about the new ESRI and ArcMap programs, as computer programs are often continually evolving and updated. I also learned how to use several new functions and was refreshed on how to most effectively use some of the basic tools such as. I found the lectures on different data types, vector versus raster, and the shapes these data types use, point, polyline and polygon versus continuous data. I learned how to define a boundary without having to import outside data, which was really helpful in trying to illuminate characteristics of one geographical area of focus. Another skill that I improved during this training was my efficiency in navigating ArcMap. GIS tools can be non-intuitive, tedious, and slow but I learned several shortcuts and tricks that will allow me to be efficient with the time that I spend on GIS projects.” – Rachel Fischer, Resiliency VISTA, Chugach Regional Resources Commission
“I come from a background with very little GIS training so taking this class was especially beneficial in helping me get introduced to what GIS is and what it is capable of. GIS is an extremely powerful tool that I know can do much more than what was covered in this class. I look forward to taking more GIS classes in the future as well as finally starting some projects using GIS. Currently, CRRC has plans to use GIS to map wetlands but I believe we can take it much further. With proper funding and more training, CRRC can incorporate GIS into a suite of different projects, all benefitting the region.
There are a few recommendations I would make fur the class in the future: 1. I suggest it being three days instead of two. If people are traveling all the way to Alaska to teach this class, let’s make it longer so we can cover more material and get a chance to use the program longer. 2. It would be extremely beneficial if maps and information on Alaska were uploaded to the program. We were able to look at data from lower 48 tribes and although the steps to access this data or perform these tasks remain the same, it would have been nice to create maps from within our region/tribal lands.” – Chelsea Kovalcsik, IGAP Environmental Coordinator, Chugach Regional Resources Commission
Left to right: Jan Yaeger (Seldovia), Stephen Payton (Seldovia), Matt Piche (Eyak), Chelsea Kovalcsik (CRRC).
Introducing Chugach Regional Resources Commission’s new segment:
CRRC’s Climate Vulnerability Assessment Project
As the importance of understanding and preventing the spread of invasive species grows within Alaska, CRRC has created a list of invasive species of concern, both aquatic and terrestrial, along with species I.D. and information on where to report potential sightings.
This week on CRRC’s Least Wanted list is Alaska’s first documented aquatic invader, Elodea!
The discovery of Elodea in Chena Slough in Fairbanks in 2010 drew attention to an established population in the Eyak Lake and led to the discovery of Elodea in other waterbodies near population centers in four regions of the state.
Elodea is not native to Alaska, and it is the first invasive freshwater aquatic plant known here. It has the potential to impact freshwater resources and fish habitat statewide.
- Degrades fish habitat and displaces native flora and fauna.
- Makes boat travel difficult and reduces recreation opportunities.
- Fouls float plane rudders.
- Alters freshwater habitats by decreasing flow & increasing sedimentation.
- Reduces value of waterfront property and may financially impact businesses associated with water related activities.
- Leaves in whorls of 3 or occasionally 4.
- Leaves are 1/4-1/2″ long & 1/8″ wide.
- Stem is a lighter green than the leaves and grow in a tangled mass.
Elodea has been documented in multiple bodies of water throughout Alaska:
CLEAN – Remove all visible mud, plants, fish/animals from equipment.
DRAIN – Eliminate water from all equipment before transporting.
Much of the recreational equipment we use can collect water
and harbor hitchhikers.
DRY – Clean and dry anything that came in contact with water. Use hot (140ºF) or
salt water if possible, allow 5 days to dry before entering new waters.
• Never release plants, water, fish, or animals into a body of water unless they
came from that water body.
• Aquarium plants and animals may be able to survive in our Alaskan waters!
• Dispose of aquariums responsibly, not by dumping them into waterways.
• Note its location: GPS coordinates and/or a mark on a map with a
description of the site.
• Note its habitat: Did you find it in a river or lake? How deep was the water?
Was the water clear or slightly muddy?
• Take a specimen: At a minimum, take a photo. Take as much of the entire plant
as you can, including the flower, if present. Put it in a zip lock bag and store it in a
cool place. If you don’t have a bag, press it in a book or inside wax paper and keep
it safe until you can submit it.
or contact Dan Coleman
Invasive Weeds and Agricultural Pest Coordinator
water quality sampling program. This photo was taken at the docks in Port Graham.
Board of Fisheries 2019 Work Session
On Wednesday October 23rd, our VISTA Volunteer, Rachel Fischer, attended the first day of the Board of Fisheries (BoF) 2019 Work Session. This work session covered a variety of topics such as task force assignment reviews, escapement goals and stocks of concern updates for Lower Cook Inlet, Kodiak, and Upper Cook Inlet, a Federal Subsistence Board Update, a North Pacific Management Council Update, a report on Ocean Acidification, and a call for 2019/2020 proposals.
During this work session, Rachel had the opportunity to identify several promising individuals to invite to speak at our 2020 Annual Subsistence Memorial Gathering, since the theme of the upcoming Gathering centers around CRRC’s communities’ traditional subsistence resources.
The BoF Work Session allowed Rachel to observe the organization in action and gain an understanding of the types of topics the BoF presides over, the organizations they partner and engage with, and some of the pressing issues facing the fish and the people of Alaska.
An example of the pressing issues facing Alaska’s fish species and fishing communities is ocean acidification. Bob Foy, with NOAA and Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and Toby Schwoerer, with the UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research, presented emerging research on ocean acidification in Alaska. While ocean acidification is a topic of interest around the globe, this presentation on ocean acidification in Alaska specifically gave valuable insight into Alaska’s unique management needs regarding ocean acidification and more broadly, climate change.
CRRC’s IGAP Regional Environmental Coordinator, Chelsea Kovalcsik, traveled to Eugene, Oregon to attend the Climate Change Adaptation Planning in-person meeting, hosted by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP). Chelsea has been participating in this class online for a year with her fellow cohort. In Eugene, she met with members of her cohort as well as members of ITEP to discuss vulnerability assessments, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and effective tribal communication methods. CRRC is in the beginning stages of their own vulnerability assessment and with recent funding, CRRC is eager to hit the ground running. Chelsea was able to listen to other tribal communities who have already completed their own vulnerability assessments – the successes and areas for improvement. With this information, Chelsea believes that CRRC has great potential to create a document that accurately represents the region while getting baseline information on potential climate change impacts in the area.
Left to right: Chelsea Kovalcsik (CRRC), Hayley Scott (University of Oregon), Chas Jones (Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians & NW Climate Adaptation Science Center), Rob Jones (Elk Valley Rancheria), Julia Maldonado (ITEP), Karen (ITEP), and Candace Penn (Squaxin Island Tribe).
Sugt’stun word of the week:
Chugach Regional Resources Commission is dedicated to the cultural preservation and Tribal sovereignty of the Tribes of the Chugach Region.
By promoting the use and preservation of the Sugt’stun language, which holds embedded cultural meaning and customs that may not translate, Tribal Members can assert their Tribal Sovereignty over their resources, their lands, their traditions, and ultimately, their way of life. Traditional language is central to cultural and spiritual traditions.
Sugt’stun = Qaniq
English = Snow
Sentence in Sugt’stun = Qanikcaumuq unuk, murwa’ut sug’et aprutmi
Sentence in English = It must have snowed so much last night; people are treading through the deep snow on the road
Translated by: Casey Marsh
Sugt’stun = Llur’ak
English = Sled
Sentence in Sugt’stun = Llurngami llukcagualleq tengelraa paagutekcak taumi mill’uni nullumini! Ayalayak ai!
Sentence in English = While he was sledding, he took a big jump in the air and landed on his behind! Ouch!
Translated by: Casey Marsh
Sugt’stun = Tanik
English = Moon
Sentence in Sugt’stun = Tanqiliruq taumi pat’snarluni llaami
Sentence in English = The moon is bright and it is cold outside
Translated by: KBBI News
Sugt’stun = Quiuyryat
English = Northern Lights
Sentence in Sugt’stun = Suget pilaumalrit kawiiyaqaata quiryat kumait, anguyakcagcequt
Sentence in English = People used to say that when the northern lights are red, there will be a big war
Translated by: Sperry Ash & Sally Ash
“Sugt’stun is the traditional language of the Sugpiaq communities across the Alaska Peninsula, Prince William Sound and Kodiak Island. This includes the villages of Port Graham and Nanwalek. Nanwalek residents Sally and Sperry Ash have collaborated with KBBI to share the Sugt’stun language with the communities of the southern Kenai Peninsula. A new word will air each week, twice a day. You can hear the Sugt’stun Word of the Week on weekdays at 7:59 a.m. and 4:59 p.m. and weekends at 9:18 a.m. and 4:18 p.m.” – KBBI.org
Chelsea Kovalcsik and Rachel Fischer presented on a workshop that CRRC held in March of 2019 on the Board of Game regulatory process. The two discussed the concerns and frustrations about game management that community members voiced to CRRC staff, spurring the idea for a workshop, the specific circumstances of the game management unit and proposals of concern, and the way in which this localized case study represents an opportunity for continued education on the co-management of game management regulatory processes going forward. This presentation was a learning opportunity for both Rachel and Chelsea. While the details of the workshop CRRC held were fairly straightforward, in order to understand the community’s frustrations with the BoG regulatory process and proposals at hand, Rachel and Chelsea had to learn about the history of game management in Alaska which requires an understanding of land ownership, which requires knowledge on major legislation like ANCSA and ANILCA. During this process, the two presenters became familiar with the broad history of game management in Alaska as well as the specific circumstances of and proposals regarding Game Management Unit 15C, the Anchorage Nonsubsistence Area, and the TM549 Tier II region.
One of the breakout sessions that Rachel and Chelsea attended discussed Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). This was a popular topic at ATCEM this year, with several sessions centering around the science of PSP and what is being done in Alaska to address this issue. However, this session about PSP was unique in that it was given from an epidemiological perspective. Joe McLaughlin, an epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health, provided a brief background on the science of PSP, the way the toxins occur in the environment and impact humans once ingested which is all important information for any sort of discussion on PSP. However, this presentation became unique by focusing primarily on the statistics regarding PSP impacts on human health, the demographics of who is impacts and why, and the way in which the timing of cases reflects seasons and gathering patterns. Joe also highlighted the way different environmental monitoring efforts across the state intersect one another and identified opportunities for collaboration between groups such as the Alaska Division of Public Health, Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR), the Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network, and migratory bird groups.
A particularly engaging presentation that Chelsea and Rachel attended was given by Vernae Angnaboogok who works with the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). This presentation titled, “Building a Pathway to Advance Alaska Inuit Food Sovereignty”, discussed two separate projects that the ICC is currently involved with; the first being Inuit Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance and the second being Inuit Food Security. While these two projects were presented as separate entities, Vernae explained that that these topics of food sovereignty, self-governance, and food security all inform one another. Vernae went into detail on what the Inuit people, around the globe, have together identified as barriers to advancing Inuit food sovereignty. Examples of these barriers include subsistence regulations conflicting with the timing of seasons, the fragmented nature of numerous structures of management that govern subsistence resources, and the Inuit people not having enough authority on these subject matters due to a lack of co-management models. Despite these barriers, Vernae illuminated the way in which Inuit people across the world have been able to come together and create collaborative strategies, management plans, and priorities. While she acknowledged that climate change poses an increasingly difficult challenge natural resource management entities, she positively pointed out that indigenous knowledge and input is gaining credence, though there is still a lot of work to be done.
Chelsea Kovalcsik (left) and Rachel Fischer (right) presenting at the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management.
Jeff Hetrick, Director of the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, gave an update on hatchery operations and their water quality monitoring program, at the Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management this past November. Through his presentation, Jeff informed audience members how the hatchery collects and processes water samples they are given, as well as what communities are currently participating. Through BIA funding and strong community engagement, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery analyzes samples from Chugach Region Resources Commission’s seven Member Tribes as well as Tribal communities around the state. Jeff also talked about the impacts changing water chemistry has on shellfish, a particularly vulnerable group of species. Jeff ended his presentation by asking audience members, if they were interested, to contact him so they can set up water quality monitoring programs in their community as well as send their samples to the hatchery. Audience members were engaged with APSH’s work and showed genuine interest in learning more about environmental changes happening in their own communities.
SAVE THE DATE
You are invited to Chugach Regional Resources Commission’s
~19th Annual Subsistence Memorial Gathering~
When: Thursday, March 26th, 2020
Where: Changepoint Church (6689 Changepoint Dr., Anchorage, AK)
Workshop: 9:15am – 4:30pm
Gathering: 5pm – 9pm
To volunteer or make donations, please contact:
Chugach Regional Resources Commission
‘Habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease, and severe weather have all taken a severe toll on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and bees. All types of wildlife are declining-in many cases dramatically.’
How You Can Help:
As a member of the Society you can help by:
- Have your Tribe submit a letter of support for RAWA by August 30, 2019.
- Submit letters to your State’s Senators and Representatives asking them to sign on as co-sponsor or cc them on your letter of support.
- Sign on as an individual Scientist for support here
- Promote RAWA with #RecoverWildlife
Please share this information with ALL of your tribal contacts. In order for this legislation to pass we need to get our Congressmen on board.
We are asking that you email a copy of your support letters to Garrit Voggesser () of the National Wildlife Federation and Julie Thorstenson (); we want to know who is submitting them so we can continue to contact tribes that might not be getting the information.
Thanks for your help. Please contact Garrit Voggesser, National Wildlife Federation Tribal Partnership Director, Julie Thorstenson, Executive Director for the Society () or Elveda Martinez, President for the Society () if you have any questions or need assistance.
To learn more about this effort, please visit:
CRRC Agenda Change Request to the Board of Game: Extend the TM549 moose hunting season in Unit 15C, southwest of Pt. Pogibshi
Historically, the communities of Port Graham and Nanwalek have requested season extensions directly through the area biologist in Homer on a year to year basis depending on harvest counts and community need. Recent requests were denied in 2012-2019. A season extension was passed by board action in 2005.
Currently four permits are issued annually for TM549. This request will not increase the total number of moose permits issued each year. The harvest success rate varies annually but averages two moose.
Permit holders are having a difficult time filling permits within the current season dates. The majority of the moose in recent years are harvested during the last week of the hunt and fifty percent of the permits are not being filled due to difficulty finding moose early in the season. If the current trend continues, the community of Port Graham will continue to request a season extension for this hunt on a yearly basis in order to provide reasonable opportunity for hunters to harvest a moose.
Chugach Regional Resources Commission is requesting that the Board of Game extend the TM549 open season for moose in Game Management Unit, area 15C, southwest of a line from Point Pogibshi to the point of land between Rocky and Windy bays in order to increase hunter opportunity in the area. Inconsistent weather conditions have in the past limited hunting during the scheduled open season that is currently between August 25 and September 30. Area hunters have been experiencing effects of climate change and moose are migrating and rutting later than usual. A longer season would allow area hunters more flexibility to schedule hunts around challenging weather conditions.
The Agenda Change Request failed, 0-7. CRRC will not be able to submit another proposal for extension of the TM549 moose hunting season in Unit 15C, southwest of Pt. Pogibshi until the next Board of Game Southcentral meeting, during winter/spring of 2021/2022.
To listen to the audio of the meeting, click here! –> 01:34:12 PM
AMBCC Request for 2021 Alaska Subsistence Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Harvest Regulations
Once a year, the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council (AMBCC) opens up a proposal submission period for people interested in changing migratory bird season dates, species of birds/eggs open to harvest, area open to hunting, methods and means, or harvest limits.
Unlike other federal and state agencies, the AMBCC’s technical committee will work with the proposer to work on, “getting to yes”. In other words, the technical committee will help edit, update, add or subtract from the proposal to help give the proposal its best chance.
The AMBCC highly encourages people to not only be aware of the world and the ways that it is changing, but also be proactive in submitting proposals to address these changes.
If you notice something changing in your community and you want to submit a proposal to address this change, please fill out the form below.
If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact:
Patty Schwalenberg at
(Above) Proposal Form: Proposed Change for 2021 Alaska Subsistence Spring/.Summer Migratory Bird Harvest Regulations, Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council
Voices of the Kenai
Hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Chugach Regional Resources Commission assisted in facilitating the Alaska Native Relations training, hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Alaska Native Relations training is a course for USFWS employees who desire to have a successful relationship with Alaska Native people and organizations. Arielle Baines, CRRC’s Executive Assistant, participated in the training as a member of the cadre – a group of Alaska Native individuals from around the state selected to assist in facilitating, educating, and communicating with participants.
This year, participants were able to listen to presentations by a whole host of people, including but not limited to, Professor Emeritus Stephen J. Langdon, Anthropology Professor at UAF and Author of The Native People of Alaska, Judge David Voluck, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and Professor Reverand Dr. Michael Oleksa, Developer of the Cross Cultural Communications Series, as well as various other experts and excellent, pertinent people presenting on relevant topics.
On Wednesday, the students got to experience a traditional meal with a variety of foods native to many different places across Alaska and the world. This was followed up with Arielle teaching them a native dance that recognizes the beauty and love that goes into herding reindeer. To close the day, the students toured the Alaska Native Heritage Center learning about the diversity and complexities of the different native civilizations across Alaska.
As Friday brought everything to a close, everyone shared how the class challenged their way of thought, not only in how they approached the native cultures, but how they now viewed their own cultures and their own personal relationships. The students sat and listened to each other sharing so they could not only learn from their own experiences but from other experiences through the lens of their peers. Though this particular week had its set of challenges, the host’s and student’s consensus was one of success and learning.
Rachel Fischer, Chugach Regional Resources Commission’s AmeriCorps VISTA, also attended the Alaska Native Relations Training in November on the Southcentral Foundation campus in the Nuka building. During this week, Rachel was able to make connections with elders from each distinct cultural region in Alaska, meet employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with jobs that ranged from marine biologists to permitting agents, and learn about the history and present-day dynamics of federal agents and Native Alaskan community members around the state of Alaska.
One of the lessons that was the most impactful for Rachel was when elder Lucy Sparck led an interactive activity on the intersection between family values and the history of forced removal of Alaska Native youth. Lucy walked the group through what a family often looks like, and described the proximity in which these families live, learn, and grow. During this time, she assembled the attendees into these family units. After assembling, Lucy began a story about the history of Alaska state and federal figures taking children and parents from Alaska Native Villages. The group simulated this by asking the “children” in each family unit to leave the room. Upon doing this, the circle that the group had formed became empty and gap-filled. Lucy elaborated on the history she had just shared with the group, now that they were able to physically see the impact it made on each family and on the community as a whole. She gave detail on how missing these members of their community, the children, meant certain roles in each village were now not filled, how grandparents and skilled hunters, gatherers, storytellers were not able to pass their knowledge in the way intended to due to the absence of the young, learning generation. Lucy provided the group with a clear historical timeline but also with an emotional depth meant to impact the attendees, without blame but simply to share the burden of sorrow these events caused.
(Top Left) Participants listen to Cup’ik elder, Lucy Sparck. (Top Right) A group of participants have a one-on-one conversation with Athabascan elder, Justin Wilson. (Bottom Left) Cup’ik elder, Lucy Sparck shares with the class (Bottom Right) Tlingit elder, Bob Sam, shares a story with the class.
Our partners from Eyak and Seldovia came to the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward during the Federal Subsistence Board meeting. The staff at APSH worked with our partners in Eyak on future collaboration opportunities.
From left to right: Michael Mahmood (APSH), Michael Opheim (Seldovia), John Whissel (Eyak), and Matt Piche (Eyak).
Hear the latest on ocean acidification in Alaska including current and future conditions and species response, here!
Matthew Fagnani came to the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery to talk about economic development in the region, particularly maricultural development.
(Left) Matthew Fagnani, Division Director, State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development getting a tour of the hatchery by (Right) Michael Mahmood, Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery.
Partnership and Working Together
Written by: Karli Tyance Hassel, Anishinaabe, Graduate Student – Fisheries, Aquatic Science and Technology Laboratory, Alaska Pacific University
(Top left) Dinner at Kincaid Grill with project partners to discuss fishery project objectives. (Top right) Graduate student Karli Tyance Hassell shows off a male sockeye during fall genetic sampling. (Bottom left) Dr. Brad Harris shows of his drone flying skills for the Nanwalek School in front the community hall. (Bottom right) APU President Bob Onders and Chief of Port Graham Patrick Norman sign an APU-FAST Lab & CRRC Memorandum of Understanding that will guide future research with the 7 tribes of the Chugach Region and the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery.
In 2017, I made the move from Thunder Bay, Ontario to Alaska to start a life with my husband and to begin my masters with the Fisheries, Aquatic Science and Technology Laboratory (FAST Lab) at Alaska Pacific University (APU). As an Anishinaabe woman who studies science, I did not have a specific thesis project in mind, but I knew wanted serve a tribal community and utilize a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to research. The approach, championed by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall, bridges the lenses and strengths of Indigenous knowledge and western science to examine an issue for the benefit of all (see integrativescience.ca; Two Eyed Seeing model).
At the same time, the Alaska Native Village of Nanwalek was initiating discussions with the FAST Lab regarding their concern about the English Bay Lakes system sockeye decline. We began discussions surrounding the need for community-based monitoring, the need for self-determination, empowerment and autonomy within fisheries management and the need for improved information and data that will enhance fishery decision-making. Informed by community-driven questions, concerns and Indigenous knowledge, we began to utilize western science approaches to investigate what might be influencing the salmon population. Drones, water quality and temperature, environmental DNA, and sockeye genetics are just a few tools of focus that may improve information on the biological variables controlling sockeye production in the system and develop community capacity and technical expertise.
Fast forward three years later with multiple visits to Nanwalek with APU fisheries classes, Council and community meetings, school programming, a signed Memorandum of Understanding, and the investigation of community-based fishery concerns – we look for a path forward grounded in partnership and collaboration.
We now have a Fishery Working Group (FWG) comprised of Nanwalek Elders, youth, fishermen, Council members, community members and advisors from FAST Lab, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Chugach Regional Resources Commission (see Figure). I conducted mini-interviews with project partners as a means to reflect on lessons learned and provide partners with the opportunity to express the impact of the project on their personal lives, impacts to joint-research, and what we hope to accomplish together in the future. CRRC Executive Director and project partner, Patty Schwalenberg, states that “the way this project was put together and the way it was managed by listening to the community and doing the work that they were interested in and bringing the tools that APU has to help with the process, I think that it can be used as a model across the state, if not in Indian Country elsewhere. Because getting those ideas from the ground up and then bringing the technology and the tools to make that happen is really what it’s all about.”
The FWG will continue to guide current and future fishery objectives and investigations. Our next steps will be to write a strategic plan that will guide our partnership for strengthened sustainability and longevity.
(Figure 1) Fishery Working Group (FWG) comprised of Nanwalek Elders, youth, fishermen, Council members, community members and advisors from FAST Lab, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Chugach Regional Resources Commission.