On December 6 and 7, 2022, ELOKA met with partners at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, Alaska, to make plans for partner involvement in ELOKA’s work through the end of the current National Science Foundation (NSF) award in early 2026. The meeting included leads for the current active atlas and database projects that ELOKA is supporting, as well as some community representatives and ELOKA advisory committee members. To attend the gathering, participants and ELOKA staff traveled from Alaska (Fairbanks, Birch Creek, and Anvik), Canada (Dease Lake and Calgary), and the United States (Boulder, Colorado; Boston, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Santa Barbara, California).
During the two-day meeting, participants focused on sharing updates, lessons, and learnings from projects, as well as identifying priorities for future support from ELOKA. Partners learned more about the work being planned under the current ELOKA V NSF award, asked questions, and gave feedback about how they would like to be involved. Topics of discussion included the need for more technical trainings, including the technical aspects of the Nunaliit-software-based Atlases; the importance of engaging youth and Elders; and the importance of using Indigenous Knowledge for decision-making. Some of the collaborative work being planned includes exploring different ways to improve the use of community knowledge that partners are documenting and developing a learning and evaluation framework for ELOKA. Finally, participants made plans to hold a larger gathering in the summer of 2023, which will include more community members and youth.
Outside the formal discussion, participants enjoyed getting to know each other through shared meals, games, and walks on the beautiful grounds of the Alaska Native Heritage Center.