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Tribal Engagement

Humans have been an important component of western Alaska ecosystems for thousands of years. Today there are 116 Federally recognized Tribes and six Regional Native Associations and six Regional Native Corporations within the Western Alaska LCC geography. Alaskan Natives bring an important aspect to the cooperative that is unparalleled by other partners. Through their long interaction with the land, water, fish, wildlife and plants of western Alaska they bring a historical knowledge that is important to understanding the changes we are seeing today. Similarly, the Tribes, Associations and Corporations manage land and resources within western Alaska and are therefore an important user group for information and products of the LCC.

Since the Western Alaska LCC first began, the staff and the Steering Committee made concerted efforts to reach out to the Tribal Councils in western Alaska. In addition to presentations and workshops held at forums such as the BIA’s Tribal Providers Conference, Alaska Tribal Conference on Environmental Management, Alaska Forum on the Environment and other venues, we dedicated a staff person to conduct outreach to Tribal Councils in 2011 and 2012. We contacted all Tribal Councils and either discussed or mailed information about the LCC and opportunities for participation. There were perhaps 20 Tribal Councils that we were unable to reach via phone or email so we sent letters to these offices. To ensure that we have Alaskan Native perspectives represented on the LCC Steering Committee, we have three Interim Steering Committee members from three of the six Regional Native Associations (Kawerak, Association of Village Council Presidents and Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association Inc.). We continue to work to make these positions permanent and include individuals from the other three Regional Associations through a rotating pattern.

Perhaps most importantly, the Western Alaska LCC Steering Committee continually strives to include Alaskan Native perspectives in all levels of activities through the LCC. If you look at the projects sponsored by the LCC you will see several that are specifically focused on rural Alaskan communities, and several others include project components that build on or incorporate traditional knowledge. Through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium we are linking in with Local Environmental Observers​ throughout western Alaska and helping communities to better understand, and adapt, to environmental change from a warming climate. Even projects without specific links to Alaskan Natives or rural communities have indirect ties through their emphasis on modeling how climate change is effecting processes, habitats or species which are important to Alaskan Natives and other residents and decision makers within western Alaska.​