Observational network approaches for the co-production of knowledge in support of food sovereignty for Indigenous Alaskan Communities

"Climate change disproportionately affects Native Alaskan communities in ways that impede Indigenous subsistence lifestyles and systems. In particular, sea ice along the coast of Alaska has become thinner, shorter-lived, and unpredictable which threatens the animals that depend on it, like the walrus, as well as subsistence hunters and their communities who are forced to change their traditional practices. Western scientific observations could be used to complement Indigenous and traditional knowledge through the process of the co-production of knowledge (CPK), a process that equitably combines these knowledge systems, to mitigate these challenges. Indigenous groups and communities have created a framework in their approach to food sovereignty which is defined as the right of communities to culturally appropriate and sustainable food systems, a more direct way of restoring and enacting their own power outside of Western and neo-liberal structures. This frame- work that indigenous groups have built upon in the context of the Arctic can be used to assess how ongoing indigenous and scientific partnered observing programs contribute to community needs in Alaska. This thesis delves into the critical framework of indigenous scholars and organizations, building an understanding of broad ideas behind food sovereignty and CPK before illustrating the challenges of climate change and subsistence species management in Northwest Alaska. I then use subsistence walrus hunting as a case study to demonstrate the lived challenges of climate change for indigenous communities and how existing organizations use observations to help address these chal- lenges. The Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO), a tool through the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), collates sea ice and weather forecasts as they relate to walrus hunting. These reports include data from Native Alaskan sea ice experts and the National Weather Service, comb- ing western and indigenous ways of knowing. I compare SIWO and additional organizations that enact CPK such as Indigenous Sentinels Network (ISN), and The Alaskan Arctic Observatory and Knowledge Hub (AAOKH) to understand how CPK is employed in the context of food sovereignty framework. I denote common themes of these programs, successful attributes, and areas that could be improved in this field. This thesis describes aspects of food sovereignty in Alaska that reflect the challenges as well as potential pathways to mitigation and restoration through community-derived research and management priorities. With this thesis I provide some analysis of CPK approaches that are being presently used to address climate change in the Arctic and what contributions and work still lies ahead."

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