This project examines all animal species harvested by residents of our partner communities. We will focus on species that are significant subsistence resources (nutritionally, culturally, or otherwise) and that are also focal species for other BSIERP components. For example, we plan to examine the cultural and subsistence practices regarding walrus in Savoonga, fur seals in St. Paul, and seabirds in all communities, as well as other species or environmental parameters identified through discussion with other BSIERP researchers.
Our partner communities are Akutan, St. Paul, Togiak, Emmonak, and Savoonga.
We will work with elder experts in five Bering Sea communities, non-Native scientists, and younger community members to document their unique natural history and cultural geography, including traditional place names, weather and ice conditions, harvesting patterns, animal and plant communities, and related oral traditions.
Residents recognize that they must document unique aspects of their traditional knowledge in the near future or not at all: the present generation of elder experts are the last to have received a traditional education in the qasgi (communal men’s house) before the advent of organized religion and formal education.
Community members of all ages are also deeply concerned about the changes in climate and ecology occurring along the Bering Sea coast. Community members feel strongly that elders' perspectives on past periods of resource scarcity, storm surges, and unusual ice and weather conditions, as well as their views on ongoing changes in the Bering Sea ecosystem, will be invaluable in preparing them for the future.