Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
YUKON DELTA: EldersShare Wisdomwith RefugeStaff
Alaska Region, December 2, 2005
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On December 1 and 2, 2005 Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge hosted the Calista Elders Council (CEC) and their consulting anthropologist, Ann Fienup-Riordan, for the CEC's first joint-agency-topic-specific gathering on migratory birds.  The CEC is a non-profit organization representing the 1,300 Yup'ik tradition bearers of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in southwestern Alaska.  Elders and other community members are deeply concerned about maintaining their traditional knowledge base, which many feel is at the heart of their survival.  CEC gatherings and their resulting publications are viewed as important milestones in ensuring that Yup'ik cultural perspectives are broadly shared while also being preserved for future generations.  The gathering at the Refuge headquarters in early December allowed Refuge staff an opportunity to hear the elders share their traditional ecological knowledge about wildlife along the southern coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.  Although birds were the primary focus of the gathering, elders and Refuge biologists discussed populations and habitat trends for other wildlife as well, including fish and fur-bearers.  Refuge manager Mike Rearden, biologists Dan Gillikin and Brian McCaffery, and Refuge Information Technician Joe Asuluk Sr. participated, asking questions and sharing information during the course of the two-day gathering.

We hope that this effort to better understand long-term wildlife population trends from the perspective of life-long indigenous residents will lay the groundwork for future collaborations between the CEC, anthropologist Fienup-Riordan, and the Refuge.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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