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RCN: Learning from Indigenous community-based researchers engaged in science around the Arctic


Project start
Project end
Type of project
Project theme
Society, economy and culture
Project topic
Education & Outreach
Culture & history

Project details

Science / project summary

This award supports a Research Coordination Network (RCN) of Indigenous scholars and researchers from local communities across the Arctic. Arctic scientific research in and about communities depends in large part on collaborations, especially with local scholars and researchers, many of who are Arctic Indigenous people. The approach of this RCN stresses the interest and need for local and Indigenous researchers to meet in their homelands and design research network activities in locally and culturally relevant ways. This approach acknowledges that local Arctic Indigenous people are highly underrepresented in science, as are their practices and knowledge. This RCN recognizes this disparity and will document shared and best practices for collaboration and knowledge co-production between Arctic communities and scientific researchers to share with the broader Arctic scientific community. The RCN steering committee (SC) members are Indigenous men and women, including Elders, from communities and organizations across the Arctic. SC members also include visiting scientists and academics (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) who work in collaboration with the community-based researchers. The network SC members are Shari Fox Gearheard (PI), Univ. of Colorado; Lene Kielsen Holm (Co-PI), Greenland Institute of Natural Resources; Henry Huntington (Co- PI), Huntington Consulting; Juha Feodoroff, Sevettijärvi, Finland; Veikko Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi Village Committee, Finland; Bruce Forbes, Univ. of Lapland; Niore Iqalukjuak, Kangiqtugaapik, Nunavut; David Iqaqrialu, Kangiqtugaapik, Nunavut; Angunnguaq Josefsen, Kapisillit, Greenland; Petr Konstantinov, Yakutia, Russia; Evgenii Khudi, Yamal, Russia; Vittus Nielsen, Qoorngoq, Greenland; George Noongwook, Savoonga, Alaska; Margaret Opie, Barrow, Alaska; and Florian Stammler, Univ. of Lapland. These researchers work in a variety of contexts, including collaborative research with visiting scientists, community-based and community-initiated research and monitoring programs, and projects of all sizes that employ both Indigenous knowledge as well as western scientific approaches. The objectives of this network are to: 1) Exchange research expertise, experiences, and approaches from the different members of the network; 2) Document those experiences and approaches that the members identify as "best practices" for community-based research in Indigenous communities (noting these locally, but also where these are shared across the different communities represented); 3) Establish easily accessible means for network members to stay in contact between in-person meetings, sustain the network, and to welcome in new members (e.g. social media, regular meetings); 4) Collaborate with and exchange expertise with other existing networks and organizations interested in Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous leadership in Arctic research and education, specifically the current "Facilitating Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST)" RCN and the network member organizations including the Skolt Sámi Village Committee and Skolt Cultural Foundation, the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland, Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural School and Nunavut Arctic College, and the Iñupiat Heritage Center; 5) Interact with graduate students, youth, and early-career scientists through their participation in network meetings, exchange at a major conference, and visits by network members to classes and student groups to share perspectives on working with Arctic Indigenous communities. The RCN will hold in-person workshops in Arctic locations so that network members have the opportunity to connect with one another in places that matter to them, giving context to the hosts' experiences and allowing the visitors to see directly and in situ what their hosts' research means to them and their communities. The project team's previous work has demonstrated that direct community-community exchange is ideal for maximizing knowledge and cultural exchange and facilitating true local leadership of meetings and research in their own ways, using their own approaches and methods. Early discussions within the RCN Steering Committee members indicate such approaches will include travel on the land, demonstration of and participation in traditional activities (e.g. herding, hunting, crafts-making), sharing of food, meetings between Elders and youth, and informal and formal discussions - i.e., the planned RCN will not rely solely on standard scientific-style workshops or table-based meetings. Rather, exchanges and discussions will also happen while doing, and while respecting and learning about activities and ways of life in the homelands visited.