About the Project

Salmon drying. Photo credit: Erin McKittrick

The purpose of The Northern Bering Sea: Our Way of Life is to show extensive areas where Alaska Native hunters and local fishermen harvest ocean resources, and the marine waters important to the resources we rely on. It illustrates that the whole northern Bering Sea is the storehouse that supports our way of life. The quotations from elders and hunters are excerpted from interviews conducted for this project, other published material and oral history records. As we face threats to the northern Bering Sea, this report can support our leaders and inform outside decision-makers about how we depend on the ocean and how our way of life is inseparable from it.

This project was not an in depth inquiry into traditional ecological knowledge of the natural history of species and their environment. However, indigenous knowledge of such things as where to hunt and fish, how to be a successful hunter and fisherman, seasonal patterns, weather, ocean conditions, how to process and preserve fish and game, uses for fish and game, and customs underlie information provided to generate the maps.

Others have described the relationship between traditional knowledge and traditional practice:

Indigenous knowledge is a comprehensive world-view. Information is classified and incorporated into a framework for understanding how the world operates. This provides the basis for not only hunting practices, but is also the basis for the cultural and spiritual aspects of indigenous society. The relevance of the system to life in the Arctic is clear from the simple fact that Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have survived, and thrived, for centuries.

Indigenous ecological knowledge, or traditional knowledge, is that part of Indigenous knowledge that addresses the natural environment. It is natural history, based on detailed observations sifted for their meaning, and relied upon for their predictive value. This knowledge is dynamic and evolving. Although parts of it can be documented, indigenous knowledge cannot be preserved on paper or computer disc. Its survival depends on the survival of the ways of life and the experiences upon which it is based. Without indigenous peoples and their way of life, indigenous knowledge cannot exist.1 From “Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Beluga Whales: An Indigenous Knowledge Pilot Project in the Chukchi and Northern Bering Seas”

More about the project:
On wealth
On stewardship
On learning

Last Updated: 
Thu, 01/21/2016