North by 2020: Indigenous Knowledge

The Interface between Indigenous and Local Knowledges and Western Science

The IPY Working Group on the cross-cutting theme of Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science recognizes that Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have been caretakers of the land for millennia and have acquired extensive deep knowledge regarding the environment in which they live. Furthermore, Indigenous residents of the Arctic are at the forefront of debates about the impacts and responses to accelerating ecological changes. IPY provides an opportunity to forge more meaningful institutional and collaborative research links to entrain and support emerging Indigenous scholars in pursuing Master’s or Ph.D. degrees. A successful IPY research program requires working closely with Indigenous stakeholders in all phases of developing and implementing an IPY research agenda.

Some of the near- and long-term goals of the UAF IPY Working Group on Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science are as follows:

  1. Develop a strategy and support activities to increase the numbers of Native Alaskan graduate and undergraduate students in underrepresented fields of scientific research;
  2. Foster inclusion of Alaska Native perspectives in IPY planning and research activities at UAF that have implications for Native people and communities, including seeking funding to engage Native graduate students in affiliation with IPY research initiatives;
  3. Work with IPY researchers to insure compliance with protocols for cultural and intellectual property rights, including the Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic and the Research Guidelines of the Alaska Federation of Natives (;
  4. Help implement a program of graduate fellowships or residencies to enhance exchange between Arctic Indigenous peoples, and between Native and Western perspectives on topics of relevance to the IPY.

Anyone wishing to join the Working Group on Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science or seeking additional information should contact:

  • Ray Barnhardt, Professor of Cross-Cultural Studies (UAF)
  • Pia Kohler, Assistant Professor of Political Science (UAF)

Following is a list of current working group members:

Useful Links/Publications

Following are links to web sites and references to publications that address issues associated with the interface between Indigenous knowledge and Western science. If you know of other web sites or publications that you think should be added to this list, please forward the information to Ray Barnhardt at


Arctic Council. (2004). Arctic Human Development Report. Copenhagen: Arctic Council.

Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (1993). A Research Program on Indigenous Knowledge, Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

Barnhardt, R. and A. O. Kawagley (2005). Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Alaska Native Ways of Knowing. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 36(1), 8-23.

Barnhardt, R. and A. O. Kawagley (1999). Education Indigenous to Place: Western Science Meets Indigenous Reality. Ecological Education in Action. G. Smith and D. Williams. New York, SUNY Press.

Battiste, M. (2002). Indigenous Knowledge and Pedagogy in First Nations Education: A Literature Review with Recommendations. Ottawa: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Battiste, M. (2007). Aboriginal Learning Knowledge Centre. Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan. (

Canadian Council on Learning. (2007). The Cultural Divide in Science Education for Aboriginal Learners. (

Gearheard, S. Shirley, J. (2007). Challenges in community-research relationships : learning from natural science in Nunavut. Arctic, v. 60, no. 1, Mar. 2007, p. 62-74

Hansen, S. A. and J. W. VanFleet (2003). Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property. Washington, D.C., American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Helander-Renvall, E. (2005). Composite Report on Status and Trends Regarding the Knowledge, Innovations and Practices of Indigenoius and Local Communities: Arctic Region. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations Environment Programme.

Huntington, H. P., S. F. Trainor, D. C. Natcher, O. H. Huntington, L. DeWilde
and F. Stuart Chapin III 2006. The Significance of Context in Community-Based
Research: Understanding Discussions about Wildfire in Huslia, Alaska. Ecology
and Society 11 (1): 40. [online] URL:

ICARP II. (2005). Working Group on Indigenous Peoples and Change in the Arctic: Adaptation, Adjustment and Empowerment. Copenhagen: International Conference on Arctic Research Planning II.

James, K., Ed. (2001). Science and Native American Communities. Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press.

Kawagley, A. O., D. Norris-Tull, et al. (1998). The Indigenous Worldview of Yupiaq Culture: It's Scientific Nature and Relevance to the Practice and Teaching of Science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 35(2): 133-144.

Kawagley, O. (1995). A Yupiaq World View: A Pathway to Ecology and Spirit. Prospect Heights, IL, Waveland Press.

Kullerud, L. (2005). UArctic Strategic Plan. Copenhagen: University of the Arctic.

Krupnik, I. and D. Jolly (Eds.) (2001). The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change. Fairbanks, AK, Arctic Research Consortium of the United States.

Nader, L. (1996). Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiries into Boundaries, Power and Knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge.

Pfirman, S., Bell, R., Turrin, M., & Mare, P. (2004). Bridging the Poles: Education Linked with Research. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs.

Study of Environmental Change (SEARCH). 2005. Study of Environmental Arctic Change: Plans for Implementation During the International Polar Year and Beyond. Fairbanks, Alaska: Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS).

Stephens, S. (2000). Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum. Fairbanks, AK, Alaska Native Knowledge Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Woo, M.-K. et al. (2007). Science meets traditional knowledge : water and climate in the Sahtu (Great Bear Lake) region, Northwest Territories, Canada. Arctic, v. 60, no. 1, Mar. 2007, p. 37-46.

Links related to cultural and intellectual property rights and research ethics

Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge

Mataatua Declaration on Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous People

Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic

Alaska Federation of Natives Guidelines for Research

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Alaska Native Science Commission

Draft report on Traditional Knowledge from WIPO

Indigenous Research Protocol (Yukon)

Yukon College - NRI Research Evaluation Guidelines. (2000). [online]. Whitehorse. [Available at:]