Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
YUKON DELTA: Western Science Meets Traditional Yupik Elder Knowledgein Nelson Island Circumnavigation
Alaska Region, March 17, 2008
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Supervisory Wildlife Biologist Tom Doolittle recently presented a paper “Western Science and Traditional Elder Knowledge Meet on Nelson Island” at the Alaska Anthropological Society Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. This paper was submitted as part of a plenary session on findings and reports of Yupik elders, interpretations from Yupik translators and scientists about Nelson Island.  Doolittle’s role was to report on the island’s ecology.  This presentation was complimented by elders’ reports on their way of life as well as being enriched by other archeological, geological, and anthropological papers about Nelson Island.

In the summer of 2007, the presenters circumnavigated Nelson Island to meld traditional and scientific views of resource management in reference to climate change in coastal western Alaska. This journey had participants from the ages of 16 to 77 that traveled over 300km by boat and foot visiting prehistoric and historic village sites while transitioning a spectrum of island habitats. Primary funding for the project came from the National Science Foundation, and the trip was organized through the Calista Elders Council (CEC).  Mark John, president of CEC, and social anthropologist Ann Riorden secured the NSF grant and organized the trip. June Macatee a geologist from the Calista Native Corporation, and archeologist Steve Street from the Association of Village Council Presidents were the other participating scientists.

In addition to being an extraordinary experience for all participants, the circumnavigation of Nelson Island further opened the door of partnerships for Yukon Delta Refuge to work with managing land managers and recruit new partners.

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