Life on different banks (Alaska and Chukotka)

March 18, 2014 • Alena Gerasimova

At the conference “Days of Beringia” that was held the last time in 2013, the participants concerned the fact that today there is less connection between Chukotka and Alaska, contacts between related indigenous peoples of the two countries have weakened. It was stressed that even in the difficult 90’s connection were much closer, that cultural exchange was carried out regularly enough.  And one of the decisions of the conference was to have conferences through TV and radio service (since today there is no means for regular trips overseas).  It was scheduled to have twelve of suchlike conferences in 2014.

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Alaska tribes, environmentalists work with reindeer herders in Russia

March 15, 2011 • Philip Burgess

(Arctic Sounder) Pacific Environment, an international environmental NGO focused on protecting the living environment of the Pacific Rim, will travel to Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia  (March 7-16) with a group of indigenous leaders from the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, as part of a cultural and informational exchange to strengthen ties between these communities in an effort to foster supportive relationships across the Arctic and identify opportunities for collaboration, a press release from the group said.

This 10-day exchange will bring leaders working on indigenous issues and a traditional way of life from Alaska’s Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope to the Sakha Republic to meet with Evenk tribal and NGO leaders and officials in several Sakha villages. The Evenk community in Sakha, a traditional reindeer-herding culture, is working to protect its culture and way of life in the face of increasing resource extraction activities and industrial development. Through the exchange, indigenous leaders will convene to share experiences and to learn from each other. Participants will discuss their communities’ approach to protecting sacred traditional lands, participation in decision-making processes regarding natural resource use, and community leaders’ experience negotiating with resource extraction companies and monitoring industrial projects.

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Watch Sarah Palin Shoot a Caribou (for Christmas)

December 7, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Sarah Palin is hard to miss these days, positioning herself perhaps for a run at the 2012 US Presidential elections. Here she pays homage to that essential attribute for potential US politicians, being able to use a gun (though she missed over 5 times!), taking down a caribou.

Source: The Daily Caller


A Troubling Decline in the Caribou Herds of the Arctic (E360)

September 28, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Across the Far North, populations of caribou — an indispensable source of food and clothing for indigenous people — are in steep decline. Scientists point to rising temperatures and a resource-development boom as the prime culprits.

by Ed Struzik, from Environment 360

In late July, a group of Inuit hunters set off by boat along the west coast of Banks Island to search for Peary caribou, which inhabit the Arctic archipelago of Canada. Roger Kuptana, a 62-year-old Inuit who had grown up on the island, didn’t give his fellow hunters much chance of success in their hunt for the animals, the smallest caribou sub-species in North America.

“I think it’s a waste of gas,” Kuptana told me when I visited his modest home in Sachs Harbour, a traditional community of roughly 100 people on the island, not far from the Yukon-Alaska border. “There used to be a lot of caribou around here when I grew up. But now you have to travel pretty far north to find them on the island. It’s not just here. It seems like this happening everywhere.”

As it turned out, Kuptana was right; the Inuit hunters found no Peary caribou, despite three days of searching. The hunters’ predicament is familiar to the Eskimos of Alaska, other Inuit of Canada and Greenland, and the Nenets, Komi, Evenks, Chukotkans, and indigenous groups of northern Russia and Scandinavia. Throughout the Arctic, many of the great caribou and reindeer herds that once roamed the treeless tundra, providing an indispensible source of meat and clothing for aboriginal groups, are in free-fall.

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Reindeer herds in global decline (BBC)

June 11, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer and caribou numbers worldwide: red denotes herds in decline, green indicates those on the increase and dark grey means no data is available. Reindeer and caribou do not range in areas coloured light grey

Reindeer and caribou numbers are plummeting around the world.

The first global review of their status has found that populations are declining almost everywhere they live, from Alaska and Canada, to Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia.

The iconic deer is vital to indigenous peoples around the circumpolar north.

Yet it is increasingly difficult for the deer to survive in a world warmed by climate change and altered by industrial development, say scientists.

Reindeer and caribou belong to the same species, Rangifer tarandus.

Caribou live in Canada, Alaska and Greenland; while reindeer live in Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Worldwide, seven sub-species are recognised. Each are genetically, morphologically and behaviourally a little different, though capable of interbreeding with one another.

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Shoot a Reindeer for $375 in Canada

December 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The Reindeer Blog reported some months ago that Canada’s only reindeer herd (in Inuvik, in the North West Territories, managed by the Kunnek Resurces Development Corporation) was missing. They obviously have been found, but to earn extra money, their manager, Lloyd Binder (a descendant of the Reindeer Project from the early 20th Century that brought Sami reindeer herders from Norway to Alaska and subsequently Canada) is offering hunters the chance to shoot their reindeer for $375, to earn some extra money from the herd.

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Global warming tied to Arctic caribou decline

May 14, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Source – Ed Struzik, The Province, see below) Warm, wet winters and hot, dry summers reduce numbers. In the summer of 1996, biologist Frank Miller was flying along the coast of Bathurst Island searching for Peary caribou, found only in the High Arctic of Canada, when he spied a dark spot on the sea ice.

Flying in for a look, he could see these animals were not the caribou he was looking for. They were muskoxen. The circle of animals didn’t bolt. Miller got the pilot to land a few hundred metres away. Even as he approached on foot, the herd didn’t flinch. As he moved closer, it dawned on him — they were all dead. The animals were frozen stiff and leaning against each other like statues.

“It was one of the most strange and gruesome things I’d ever seen as a biologist,” the Edmonton researcher recalls.

“They were probably on their last legs and starving when they headed out across the sea ice searching for better food conditions on another island.”

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Greenland: Warmer weather linked to caribou deaths

May 5, 2008 • Philip Burgess
(Picture Eric Post)  Global warming may be the reason for a decrease in the number of caribou calves being born in West Greenland, U.S. researchers said.Biologist Eric Post said data show the timing of peak food availability no longer corresponds to the timing of caribou births, the university said Friday in release. 

The study, conducted in collaboration with Mads Forchhammer at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, will be published in the July issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

With temperatures rising, pregnant females find that the spring plants on which they depend to survive have already begun to decline in nutritional value. Post said the plants are peaking dramatically earlier.

“Spring temperatures at our study site in West Greenland have risen by more than 4 degrees Celsius over the past few years,” he said. “As a result, the timing of plant growth has advanced, but calving has not.”

Source:  Copyright 2008, United Press International
Date:  May 2, 2008
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