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Subsistence mapping project strengthens traditional knowledge for future generations

February 7th, 2011 | Pamiuqtaq Zach Stevenson Print this article   Email this article  

KOTZEBUE - Subsistence is key to our culture and economy in the Northwest Arctic Borough.

Mayor Siikauraq Whiting and the borough staff are glad to share we successfully received a $1.8 million grant to conduct a 4-year project documenting and mapping subsistence uses and habitats in our region.

The results from this important project will protect subsistence and will belong to the borough and our residents. The borough is now hiring four new staff including a Traditional Knowledge Specialist and three Subsistence Mapping Interns based in Noatak or Kivalina, Deering or Buckland, and Selawik or Noorvik.

Please call (907) 442-2500 x 110 and ask for Pamiuqtaq Zach Stevenson to learn more and request a job application.

The borough understands the need for additional and updated information to promote and maintain subsistence and the Iñupiaq traditional way of life.

This mapping project strategically aligns with the Northwest Arctic Borough's Comprehensive Plan Goals. (Those goals are maintain the Iñupiaq culture; promote and maintain subsistence and the traditional way of life; protect the Northwest Arctic Borough environment; support the viability of existing communities; support and help develop local self determination; foster appropriate economic development; raise the standard of living for Borough residents; facilitate implementation and activities and programs by villages, and regional institutions within the Borough.)

The project views traditional knowledge at the same level as western science - with both complementing each other and working together. The project will produce maps to help guide decisions for development with private industry on how projects can be conducted sustainably and assist with permitting.

This project will also create a place for sharing existing data, maps, traditional knowledge and studies combined in a geographic information system (GIS) database and updated with the latest scientific information. The database will identify important ecological areas and potential resource development areas of the region to protect subsistence.

Overall, the project results will be used to protect our subsistence resources to keep our communities strong. An atlas of identified important ecological areas and supporting information will be produced. Representatives from participating villages and appropriate brough staff will be given training to use the atlas and GIS database to address the needs of the region.

This project relies on the participation, warmth, hard work, and cooperation that define the people of our region. The project will involve elders, youth, residents, elected officials, corporations, state and federal agencies, interested organizations, and the Borough Planning Department. Working together the project will be a success.

The subsistence mapping project is funded with qualified outer continental shelf oil and gas revenues by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP), Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, U.S. Department of Interior. Additional funding is provided through the Oak Foundation, an organization that works to make communities stronger.

For more information on the Subsistence Mapping project or to apply for one of the job positions, please call Pamiuqtaq Zach Stevenson at 442-2500 x110 or email



Pamiuqtaq Zach Stevenson can be reached at

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