Signs of the Land: Reaching Arctic Communities Facing Climate Change

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Elena B Sparrow, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, Malinda J Chase, Association for Interior Native Educators and Doyon Foundation, Fairbanks, AK, United States, Samuel Demientieff, River Journeys of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK, United States, Stephanie L Pfirman, Barnard College and Columbia University, New York, NY, United States and Jessica Brunacini, Columbia Climate Center, New York, NY, United States
In July 2014, a diverse and intergenerational group of Alaskan Natives came together on Howard Luke’s Galee’ya Camp by the Tanana River in Fairbanks, Alaska to talk about climate change and it's impacts on local communities. Over a period of four days, the Signs of the Land Climate Change Camp wove together traditional knowledge, local observations, Native language, and climate science through a mix of storytelling, presentations, dialogue, and hands-on, community-building activities. This camp adapted the model developed several years ago under the Association for Interior Native Educators (AINE)’s Elder Academy. Part of the Polar Learning and Responding Climate Change Education Partnership, the Signs of the Land Climate Change Camp was developed and conducted collaboratively with multiple partners to test a model for engaging indigenous communities in the co-production of climate change knowledge, communication tools, and solutions-building. Native Alaskans have strong subsistence and cultural connections to the land and its resources, and, in addition to being keen observers of their environment, have a long history of adapting to changing conditions. Participants in the camp included Elders, classroom teachers, local resource managers and planners, community members, and climate scientists. Based on their experiences during the camp, participants designed individualized outreach plans for bringing culturally-responsive climate learning to their communities and classrooms throughout the upcoming year. Plans included small group discussions, student projects, teacher training, and conference presentations.