2008 meeting with participating community members and UAA researchers

Alaska community partners included Chevak, located 15 miles east of the Bering Sea, Lower Kalskag and Kalskag on the middle Kuskokwim River, the Ukulmiut communities of Nunapitchuk and Tuluksak, and Tuntutuliak located on the Qinaq, or Kuskokwim, River.


Communities provided feedback on the goals of our project at an early planning meeting in 2008. We also met with traditional councils before beginning work in participating communities. Communities also collaborated with us was by providing a directed project research experience to interested undergraduate students. Click on the name of a participating community to see some of the work from students along with other community specific information.

Overview of the basic research:


In 2008, the first phase of research, we documented local institutions using semi-structured interviews with local Elders and with other's engaged in subsistence activities. We asked residents how they decided on how much food to harvest, how to share food, and how cash income influences these decisions. For instance, participants were asked to describe a Yup'ik / Cup’ik term called piciryiat, or “way things are done” because we wanted to understand local rules and how they apply to subsistence gathering and hunting activities, such as deciding where, when, and how much to fish and catch. We also asked questions to better understand how harvest and sharing decisions change when salmon is either abundant or scarce.


In the second phase of research community members participated in a series of decision-making exercises designed in light of phase one research. Decision making exercises focused on how sharing and harvest patterns change due to changes in harvesting risk. For instance, in the exercises salmon could become more or less abundant.


In the third phase of research we returned to communities in Russia and Alaska to report back findings to participating communities. A project summary poster of the experiments can be found here and a related poster describing the ethnography here. A short document describing major results can be found here. All published papers can be found by going to products - the products page will continue to be updated throughout the project.