Special Issue — “Pathway to Prosperity: The Northern Governance & Economy Conference” (Northern Public Affairs 2013)

Northern Public Affairs - This special issue of Northern Public Affairs represents our efforts to distill and crystallize the conversations emerging from this unique and educational conference. Broadly disseminating the conference results through NPA seemed an obvious partnership: the magazine provides a much — needed forum for analysis, discussion and debate on issues that occur in, or affect, the North. The content of this special issue focuses on elements of the “big picture” insights about many large-scale processes currently unfolding, such as the transformation of governance institutions and the even more rapid transformation of the economy. However it was the personal — the human — dimension, that caught our attention and that we’ve also included here.


  • Governance — Co-managing the future? (Hayden King).
  • Education — Dechinta Bush University Student Plenary (Cole Smith & Darcy Leigh).
  • Economy — The Northern economy: Lessons from industry (Don Bubar).
  • Economy — Challenges in understanding the Northern Economy (Frances Abele).
  • Economy — Resource wealth: Opportunities & challenges (Diana Gibson).
  • Society — The economy, governance, & social suffering (Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox).
  • The Essay — Pathways to homelessness (Julia Christensen).
  • In Conversation — Raising-up hunters & protectors once again: The Unaaq Men’s Association (Stephanie Irblacher-Fox & Tommy Palliser).

Download Special Issue (Scribd).

Breaking down boundaries by presenting ‘King Lear’ in Gwich’in

Alaska Dispatch: King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies. It’s been translated into scores of languages, performed countless ways by thousands of different actors. But odds are it’s never been done in Gwich’in — a sub-dialect of the Athabascan language.

Enter “Lear Khehkwaii” (pronounced “heck-why-ee”), an abridged version of the Shakespearean tragedy that embraces the Gwich’in language and culture.

Director Tom Robenolt decided to collaborate with Allan Hayton — an actor and native Gwich’in speaker from Arctic Village – to bring the version to schools and communities across the state as part of a language revitalization project.


Two Renewable Energy Pilot Projects for Igiugig, Alaska

Will Vertical Turbines Make More of the Wind

MIT Technology Review: “The remote Alaskan village of Igiugig—home to about 50 people—will be the first to demonstrate a new approach to wind power that could boost power output and, its inventors say, just might make it more affordable.”

Harnessing river and tidal energy: A pathway to sustainability for isolated Northern communities

Top of the World Telegraph: The Village of Igiugig has agreed to allow ORPC to test its prototype RivGenTM Power System on the Kvichak River in 2014. ORPC has evaluated the Kvichak as an excellent hydrokinetic resource as well as an ideal site for testing performance, monitoring environmental effects, and gathering data on the economics of river power production. Igiugig community leaders have facilitated the development of this site by leading federal and state permitting efforts, and coordinating site assessment and baseline environmental data collection efforts.

More information:

Breeding Birds Vulnerable to Climate Change in Arctic Alaska: A Story of Winners and Losers

Wildlife Conservation Society: A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) looked at the vulnerability of 54 breeding bird species to climate change impacts occurring by the year 2050 in Arctic Alaska. The assessment found that two species, the gyrfalcon and common eider are likely to be “highly” vulnerable, while seven other species would be “moderately” vulnerable to anticipated impacts. Five species are likely to increase in number and benefit from a warming climate ….

The report, Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Breeding Birds in Arctic Alaska, co-authored by WCS Scientists Joe Liebezeit, Erika Rowland, Molly Cross and Steve Zack, details in-depth vulnerability assessments conducted on 54 species to help guide climate-informed wildlife management in the region. The project was aided by the participation of more than 80 scientists who are experts on the assessed species.

Download Report: “Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Breeding Birds in Arctic Alaska” (2013).


Talking Maps: Arctic atlas reads out Inuit names

Toronto Star – Fraser Taylor’s atlas of Canada’s high Arctic reads out the names of the towns to you. The real names. Cape Strathcona is Arvaaqtuuq. Peter Richards Island is Qikiqtatannak. It is, the eminent Carleton University geographer explains, a decolonization of the Nunavut map and a repatriation of the Inuit names. Taylor, who coined the term cybercartography, doesn’t stop with simple renaming. The Arctic Bay Atlas, the latest of his life’s work to remap the land according to the people who live on it, includes oral histories, photographs, slide shows, artists’ depictions and videos.


More information:

Study: Beverly caribou decline not as drastic as once feared (“I think habitat deterioration and disturbance is a factor”)

Nunatsiaq News – The Beverly caribou herd lost half its population between 1994 and 2011, a Nunavut government study has found, but the decline is not as bad as officials once feared …

Government-commissioned biologists and 38 community representatives, including 34 Nunavut beneficiaries, two Saskatchewan representatives and two Government of the Northwest Territories’ representatives participated in the field program.

They used cutting-edge digital tools and fly-over visual surveillance of the herd’s calving and foraging grounds for their population estimates – 124,000 Beverly caribou for the summer of 2011.

Reasons for this shift in the calving area are unknown, but it may be related to numerous human and natural factors: range-wide human disturbances, such as road construction and increased hunter access to caribou; harassment by biting insects; food limitations; predation, and forest fires.


More information:

Science of building warm houses in Alaska’s Arctic frigid climate

Alaska Dispatch – Hébert, president and founder of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, is traveling to Atmautluak because members of the village’s tribal council called him for advice. Villagers want to both build their own homes while setting up a construction company.

Hébert, along with Aaron Cooke, an architectural designer with the center, want to partner with the people of Atmautluak, just as they’ve assisted others in places like Anaktuvuk Pass, Quinhagak, Crooked Creek and Point Lay. In Anaktuvuk, center staffers helped design and build low-cost, fuel-sipping, semi-subterranean houses that mesh with the country and the locals’ lifestyles.


Books: The Hidden Lives of Wolves (Jim and Jamie Dutcher)

PBS News Hour – From 1990 to 1996, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived in a tented camp on the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness, where they observed and studied the behavior and social hierarchy of a pack of gray wolves, known as the Sawtooth Pack. Their new book, “The Hidden Life of Wolves” documents that experience.

National Geographic: video segment with authors (video).

PBS News Hour: interview with authors (video).

Report: Working Together to Understand and Predict Arctic Change (Arctic Research Plan, 2013 – 2017)

White House Press Release – Today, the Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a five-year Arctic Research Plan that outlines key areas of study the Federal government will undertake to better understand and predict environmental changes in the Arctic.  The Plan was developed by a team of experts representing 14 Federal agencies, based on input from collaborators including the Alaska Governor’s Office, indigenous Arctic communities, local organizations, and universities. Seven research areas are highlighted in the Plan as both important to the development of national policies and well-poised to benefit from interagency collaboration, including among them: regional climate models, human health studies, and adaptation tools for communities.

To read the full report, please click here.

To learn more, visit NOAA Arctic Theme Page.


Being There: Scientists Enlist Inuit for Long-Term Observations of Arctic Wildlife

Scientific American – Local Arctic residents are traveling, hunting, boating and observing wildlife on the land and ocean throughout the year whereas scientists only conduct field studies for a limited time during the summer. “We might get a piece of the puzzle, but we are never going to see the puzzle,” Nweeia says … When Nweeia learned about narwhal molting for the first time, he knew that he had to part with the traditional scientific approach that validates facts through large sample sizes. “These hunters spent their whole lives around narwhal, and the reason why their knowledge is valid and should not be questioned as much is because their lives depend on it.”

View Slideshow: “Scientists and Inuit Team to Study Narwhals

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