Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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SELAWIK: New Publication Highlights Selawik Elders
Alaska Region, March 5, 2008
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"Uqausriptigun," a new publication by the Selawik Refuge, features elders' knowledge of historical caribou movements. - Photo Credit: n/a

Insight into life in the Selawik area in the 1940s and 1950s is now available through a new  booklet called Uqausriptigun: In Our Own Words.  Recently produced by the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, this colorful booklet features 10 Iñupiaq elders from Selawik describing their knowledge of and experience with caribou, caribou hunting, and reindeer herding.  Although abundant in the region today, caribou were very scarce in the Selawik area before the 1950s.  Hunters recall traveling north by dogteam for weeks at a time to find caribou.

The research for this booklet was conducted in 2003 by Selawik resident Hannah Loon and supported in part by the Selawik Refuge. The elders’ personal stories showcased in this booklet dramatically highlight the remarkable endurance, ingenuity, and compassion that are the foundation of the Iñupiaq way of life.

This historical knowledge of caribou and reindeer, combined with current observations by subsistence hunters and on-going biological research, provides the best foundation for insuring the future health and abundance of the Western Arctic Caribou Herd.  Projects documenting traditional knowledge of caribou meet one of the central goals of the Cooperative Management Plan for the Western Arctic Herd.  The booklet has been enthusiastically received by readers both near and far.

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