Indigenous observations of climate change in the Lower Yukon River Basin, Alaska

Human Organization
By: , and 

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Abstract

Natural science climate change studies have led to an overwhelming amount of evidence that the Arctic and Subarctic are among the world's first locations to begin experiencing climate change. Indigenous knowledge of northern regions is a valuable resource to assess the effects of climate change on the people and the landscape. Most studies, however, have focused on coastal Arctic and Subarctic communities with relatively little focus on inland communities. This paper relates the findings from fieldwork conducted in the Lower Yukon River Basin of Alaska in the spring of 2009. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with hunters and elders in the villages of St. Mary's and Pitka's Point, Alaska to document observations of climate change. This study assumes that scientific findings and indigenous knowledge are complementary and seeks to overcome the false dichotomy that these two ways of knowing are in opposition. The observed changes in the climate communicated by the hunters and elders of St. Mary's and Pitka's Point, Alaska are impacting the community in ways ranging from subsistence (shifting flora and fauna patterns), concerns about safety (unpredictable weather patterns and dangerous ice conditions), and a changing resource base (increased reliance on fossil fuels). Here we attempt to address the challenges of integrating these two ways of knowing while relating indigenous observations as described by elders and hunters of the study area to those described by scientific literature.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Indigenous observations of climate change in the Lower Yukon River Basin, Alaska
Series title Human Organization
DOI 10.17730/humo.70.3.v88841235897071m
Volume 70
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Society for Applied Anthropology
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 9 p.
First page 244
Last page 252