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shutterstock 1015042633 SmallcreativeArctic biodiversity is essential for the physical and spiritual well-being of Indigenous peoples, since the connection that Indigenous peoples have to the Arctic environment is through their direct relationships to the fauna and flora of the places where they subsist. Arctic Ocean resources and activities impact ecologies and human communities far inlandand across international borders, such as the numerous salmon fisheries that are in fluxglobally. Arctic river systems, whose waters flowbothto and from the Arctic Ocean,have historically provided not only the food security of Indigenous peoples, but also have been a source of their identities: many tribes are “Salmon Peoples” of the Arctic, a term that recognizes the inextricable bond between human and nonhuman speciesin the Indigenous worldview. Given that the Arctic Council has acknowledged via the Kiruna Declaration (2013) that the use of traditional knowledgeis essential to a sustainable future in the Arctic, theAACand its co-leads therefore propose a multi-phase project involving both TK holders and scientistsof academia and resource agencies, a project that will designan assessmentof freshwater river systems based on TK. The design of this holisticassessment will focus on “Salmon peoples” as a measure of ecosystem health, and alsooutline future data needs that could contribute tothe resilience and adaptation of these peoplesand the salmon populations upon which they depend. The primary project deliverableswill be three workshop reports, the final of which will bea plan to completea “Salmon Peoples of Arctic Rivers” assessment including a drafttable of contents and list of figures.

 
shutterstock 93506959 MaksimilianThe project co-leads will begin as a starting point with a place-based comparison of the following river systems: the Yukon/Kuskokwim drainage systems (flowing through the US and Canada, the territories used by Athabaskan and Gwich’intribes, and some Alaska Native tribes represented by the ICC); the Kamchatka River drainage (flowing through the Siberian region of the Russian Federation, the territories used by Russian Indigenous peoples); and the Deatnu/Teno River drainage (flowing through the Lapland region of Finland and Finnmark County of Norway, the territories used by Saami). Salmon on these river systems are in most cases undergoing changes that challenge the food security of the peoples who rely upon them.
 

There is a growing literature in the social and natural sciences on the use of TK and its relationship to Western scientific disciplines, and approaches to engaging TK can vary. TK has often been celebratedas a “local”knowledge, in that TKholders can contribute fine-scale observations of the ecosystemto understand environmental change; in this way TK holders increasingly havea role in Arctic Council efforts such as community-based monitoring. However, this project relies on a definition of TK that treats TK as variable, and as intersecting and parallel with scientific knowledges—and thus this project does not search to “integrate” this knowledge with the sciences as much as it seeks to “dialogue with”the sciences.

shutterstock 89063122 browntrout El ChocloThis project cultivates a different kind of relationship between scientists (natural and social) and traditional knowledge holders. Thisproject aims to draw on those aspects of traditional knowledge that is often referred to as “wisdom:”knowledge comparable to the sciences,in that it contributes to an Indigenous conservation theory and practice(Huntington and Watson 2012; Watson and Huntington 2008; Salmón 2000; Berkes 1999).It is in this way that this “Salmon Peoples” project is distinct from most efforts to include TK in Arctic Council activities, and distinct from recent (and important) researchon communities that rely upon salmon (e.g., Carothers et al 2012;Kolarctic Salmon Project2013)—though certainlyresearch on individual case studies, fishing practices, and the specific local and traditional knowledge of salmon will be relevant to provide data for an assessment of “Salmon Peoples.”Importantly, this project aims to organize informationabout salmon and people in ways that will be relevant to existing traditional knowledge holders, leaders, and their communities—organizing information from all knowledge systems based on the wisdom of traditional knowledge holders.

Given that the results of any assessment produce policy recommendations and informs future research questions, this project engages TK at the design stage of an assessment to enable TK holders to share these burdens with natural and social scientists of academia and regulatory agencies. The multi-stageworkshops proposed here presents a method of developing aninterdisciplinarydialogue between these Arctic traditional knowledge holders and scientists, what has been termed“knowledge co-production” (Wyborn2015; Watson 2013; Berkes and Armitage 2010).This project will contribute to the implementation of recommendation 14 from CAFF’s Arctic Biodiversity Assessment,to ‘Recognize the value of traditional ecological knowledge and work to further integrate it into the assessment, planning and management of Arctic biodiversity. This includes involving Arctic

 
 
 
 

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