Indigenous wisdom and the Arctic
SHI President Rosita Worl took part in the opening panel for the Arctic Frost Annual Network Meeting this morning at the Baranof Hotel, a three-day event focused on building collaboration among governments, Indigenous organizations and researchers in sustainable development in the Arctic.
Worl provided attendees with an overview of the Southeast Alaska Native core cultural values – Haa Aaní, Haa Shuká, Haa Latseen, and Wooch Yax̱ – and explained how those values are integrated into Sealaska and Sealaska Heritage’s operations, including Sealaska’s forest and land management practices and SHI’s sustainable arts program. For example, the core value Haa Shuká requires Sealaska to honor the past while fulfilling its responsibilities to future generations in the management of its lands, and dictates how artists gather materials to make traditional art forms such as spruce root basketry – with an awareness of those who will come after them.
Speaking after Dr. Worl, Jack Hebert of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center emphasized the importance of cross-cultural respect and collaboration, noting that the wealth of environmental, cultural, and scientific knowledge possessed by Alaska Natives puts Alaska in a strong position to set a precedent for others to follow.
“Alaska’s solutions can influence the rest of the world,” Hebert said. “We can work on this together by (integrating) 21st century technology and Indigenous wisdom.”
Funded by the National Science Foundation, Arctic Frost (Arctic FRontiers Of SusTainability) focuses on sustainable Arctic development, and is specifically aimed at “improving health, human development and well-being of Arctic communities while conserving ecosystem structures, functions and resources under changing climate conditions.”
In addition to Worl and Hebert, the opening panel included Brian Holst from the Juneau Economic Development Council, Zach Brown with the Inian Island Institute, and Michelle Elfers from the City and Borough of Juneau. Panel chair Dr. Jim Powell, UAS Assistant Professor of Public Administration, provided introductions. The conference runs through Saturday. For more, visit arctic-frost.uni.edu
Photo and text by Amy Fletcher