Co-Production of Knowledge
Arctic Observing: Indigenous Peoples' History,
Perspectives, and Approaches for Partnership
The growth of attention to the Arctic by scientists, as well as other public and private interests, has benefits and drawbacks. Among some of the benefits are new flows of funding; increased social, ecological, and geophysical information about the region; and new partnerships among peoples. Concurrently, an inordinate number of stressors are placed on many Indigenous People and their communities. They are routinely asked for data, permission for research in their homelands, or to provide “an Indigenous perspective,” often without a prior relationship, acknowledgment, or remuneration. This situation has been noted by many Indigenous scholars and more recently by different national funding agencies and educational institutions.
The upcoming Arctic Observing Summit 2020 (arcticobservingsummit.org/) has the theme “observing for action.” In this spirit, we note the fact that it is the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic who have been its primary observers for millennia. Their knowledge is contained within their languages, cultural practices, and ongoing stewardship of lands and waters. To share perspectives and start conversations, this report details the many similar aspects of being Indigenous across the Arctic. It also presents the context of Alaska Natives within the State of Alaska as an example of how colonial influences and ongoing inequities frequently, but not always, stymie good working relationships between scientists and the people of the regions they study. By sharing her perspectives in this report, Dr. Nikoosh Carlo (www.cncnorthconsulting.com) informs those who would study the Arctic about the social-environmental role of the people living there. Her shorter Call to Policy Action brief is also an invitation to Indigenous communities to tell their stories. For non-Indigenous researchers and others working in the Arctic, it makes the case for creating space for Indigenous voices by taking specific actions toward partnership.