• Assessing effects of climate change on access to ecosystem services in rural Alaska

      Cold, Helen S.; Brinkman, Todd J.; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; Brown, Caroline L.; Verbyla, David L. (2018-12)
      Across the planet, climate change is altering the way human societies interact with the environment. Amplified climate change at high latitudes is significantly altering the structure and function of ecosystems, creating challenges and necessitating adaptation by societies in the region that depend on local ecosystem services for their livelihoods. Rural communities in Interior Alaska rely on plants and animals for food, clothing, fuel and shelter. Previous research suggests that climate-induced changes in environmental conditions are challenging the abilities of rural residents to travel across the land and access local resources, but detailed information on the nature and effect of specific conditions is lacking. My objectives were to identify climate-related environmental conditions affecting subsistence access, and then estimate travel and access vulnerability to those environmental conditions. I collaborated with nine Interior Alaskan communities within the Yukon River basin and provided local residents with camera-equipped GPS units to document environmental conditions directly affecting access for 12 consecutive months. I also conducted comprehensive interviews with research participants to incorporate the effects of environmental conditions not documented with GPS units. Among the nine communities collaborating on this research, 18 harvesters documented 479 individual observations of environmental conditions affecting their travel with GPS units. Environmental conditions were categorized into seven condition types. I then ranked categories of conditions using a vulnerability index that incorporated both likelihood (number of times a condition was documented) and sensitivity (magnitude of the effect from the condition) information derived from observations and interviews. Changes in ice conditions, erosion, vegetative community composition and water levels had the greatest overall effect on travel and access to subsistence resources. Environmental conditions that impeded travel corridors, including waterways and areas with easily traversable vegetation (such as grass/sedge meadows and alpine tundra), more strongly influenced communities off the road network than those connected by roads. Combining local ecological knowledge and scientific analysis presents a broad understanding of the effects of climate change on access to subsistence resources, and provides information that collaborating communities can use to optimize adaptation and self-reliance.
    • Can I tell you what really happened?: learning to make decisions in response to indigenous student voice in a high school language arts classroom

      Rushman, Alyssa M.; Patterson, Leslie; Siekmann, Sabine; Martelle, Wendy (2019-05)
      This study focuses on engaging high school students in reading and the decisions I make to sustain that engagement. I learned that one way to enhance the engagement in my classroom is to listen to my students' stories and to incorporate culturally relevant texts. All of the students in this study were previously in our school's language intervention program: Read 180. While teaching this intervention-based class, I noticed this class was a behavior management nightmare. The students' challenging behavior led me to question the intervention program's ability to sustain my students' engagement through the prescribed texts. This study aims to describe my observations in a 10th grade Language Arts II class in Chefornak, Alaska. Specifically, this thesis describes my findings and analysis as it relates to how students show engagement and how I make (and revise) decisions in response to my students' voices. I used teacher action research (TAR) to research the events in my classroom. During an 11-week period, I collected audio recordings, student work samples, and teacher action research journal entries. At the end of the research, I also wrote memos about the data. I used constructive grounded theory (CGT) to make sense of the story the data tells and to see what kind of patterns were present. This research is important to me because it helps me to understand the weaknesses and the strengths in my own instructional planning as well as how I interpret students' participation in class. After this research, I am convinced that learning outcomes are preceded by learner engagement, and that learner engagement is complex.
    • Coming together at the table: partnering with urban Alaska Native families for their children's school success

      Roth, Karen L.; Vinlove, Amy; Topkok, Sean Asiqluq; Williams, Maria Shaa Tlaa; Jester, Timothy (2019-05)
      There is abundant research regarding the positive effects of family engagement as a factor in P-12 student success. Partnerships between home and school provide opportunities for students' families and educators to establish common goals and share meaning about the purpose of schooling. Unfortunately, mainstream outreach practices by Western educators have often failed to nurture authentic relationships with Indigenous families. This may be a contributing factor in lower academic success for too many Indigenous students. Historical educational practices in the U.S. for Indigenous students such as mandated attendance at distant boarding schools and English-only policies have adversely affected their languages and cultures worldwide and left a legacy of negative associations around schooling for many Native peoples. Non-Native educators continue to add to this disconnect with teaching pedagogies and curricula that are not responsive to Indigenous lifeways and values. In addition to inappropriate instructional methods and content, outreach strategies of non-Native educators may add to practices that marginalize Indigenous students and their families and discourage collaboration between home and school. This mixed-methods study sought to find family outreach strategies implemented by early childhood educators in the Anchorage School District (ASD) that build and nurture more culturally sustaining and relational approaches to building partnerships with Alaska Native families. Such practices are more likely to lead to student success for Native students. Research methods used were (a) a content analysis of ASD school-home communication fliers, (b) a survey of ASD preschool teachers on their outreach beliefs and practices with Native families, and (c) interviews with families of Alaska Native students.
    • A comparative analysis of legislative and policy support of indigenous cultural transmission in Alaska, Canada, and Azerbaijan

      Tobin, Löki Gale (2011-05)
      Does federal recognition of indigenous self-determination lead to federal support of indigenous cultural transmission? This thesis used a multiple-case analysis to answer this question. Research assessed the impact federal and non-federal legislation has had on indigenous cultural transmission in Alaska, Canada, and Azerbaijan respectively. Findings demonstrated that after federal recognition of indigenous self-determination, cultural transmission programs increased in Alaska and Canada. In Azerbaijan, where no such recognition exists, indigenous groups continue to face discrimination and national policies that negatively impact cultural transmission activities. Without federal recognition of indigenous self-determination, indigenous groups worldwide face situations hostile to their cultural survival.
    • Indigenous-crown relations in Canada and the Yukon: the Peel Watershed case, 2017

      Baranik, Lauren Alexandra; Ehrlander, Mary F.; McCartney, Leslie; Castillo, Victoria; Hirsch, Alexander (2019-08)
      The history of Indigenous-Crown relations in Canada has varied regionally and temporally. With the Constitution Act of 1982, however, Canada entered a new era. Section 35 of the Constitution recognized Indigenous treaty and land rights, and the Supreme Court of Canada has consistently interpreted this section liberally in favor of Canada's Indigenous Peoples. The Court has upheld the honour of the Crown in emphasizing the national and subnational governments' duty to consult diligently when engaging in development on the traditional territories of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit. The "citizens-plus" model of asserting and protecting Indigenous rights, first coined in the Hawthorn Report of 1966, has proved effective in these court cases, most recently in the Yukon's Peel Watershed case from 2014 to 2017. Yet, engaging with the state to pursue and to invoke treaty rights has forced socioeconomic and political changes among Yukon First Nations that some scholars have argued are harmful to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of Indigenous communities, mainly through alienation from their homelands. The Peel Watershed case demonstrates the unique historical development of Yukon First Nations rights and the costs and benefits of treaty negotiations and asserting Indigenous rights.
    • Learning from the local scale: identifying and addressing local blind spots in Arctic environmental governance

      Curry, Tracie; Meek, Chanda; Trainor, Sarah; Berman, Matthew; Lopez, Ellen; Streever, Bill (2019-08)
      Environmental governance in the context of climate change adaptation brings together diverse actors and stakeholders to develop and enact policies across a broad range of scales. However, local needs and priorities are often mismatched with those pursued by entities at different levels of decision-making. This mismatch is perpetuated, in part, by the dominating influence of the Western worldview in knowledge processes involving the creation, sharing, and use of environmental knowledge. Persistent biases that favor Western science and technical information while marginalizing other important sources like local and Indigenous knowledge create blind spots that may adversely affect adaptation outcomes. In this research, a case study of the Native Village of Wainwright, Alaska is used to explore the topic of information blind spots in environmental governance resulting from 1) low resolution tools employed within broad scale adaptation initiatives; 2) preferences for easily quantifiable information; and 3) the challenge of communicating context-rich details to outside decision makers, given disciplinary biases and organizational conventions. This dissertation comprises manuscripts based on three studies undertaken to address the above blind spots in specific areas of adaptation planning. The first manuscript furthers conventional methods of adaptation classification through a place-based approach that uses directed content analysis to identify aspects of local adaptation not readily captured by low resolution frameworks. The second manuscript employs contextual analysis and extends Ostrom's Institutional Analysis and Development framework to characterize the role of local informal institutions in adaptation and provide insights into how difficult-to-quantify social and cultural norms might be leveraged in planned adaptation initiatives. The third manuscript reports on a formative endeavor that looked practically at conventions for communicating environmental change to public sector decision-makers, and tested a survey that explored the potential for context-rich visuals and other reporting strategies to effectively convey information about local observations and experiences of change.
    • "The most multi-ethnic country in the world": indigenous peoples in Russia's Eurasianist political narrative

      Trienen, Lex; Boylan, Brandon; Ehrlander, Mary; Hirsch, Alex (2019-05)
      Since 2012, scholars have taken a renewed look at the philosophical and political ideas of Eurasianism within Russia to explain President Vladimir Putin's conduct and the Russian public's response to it. Eurasianism in its current form posits that the Russian state plays a unique role in the history of the world in opposing the avaricious, agnostic, and culturally oppressive "West," while uniting and elevating the peoples of the Eurasian continent in a peaceful, organic and spiritual "Eurasia." Indigenous peoples play a distinctive role in this narrative. Both the United States and Russia have Indigenous populations that have been subjected to both passive neglect and active violence over the past several centuries and currently suffer from poor social conditions compared to the dominant ethnic groups of their respective countries. This thesis addresses the question of how the Russian media's portrayal of Native Americans diverges from that of its own Indigenous peoples in order to perpetuate this Eurasian narrative. Articles were collected from various news outlets in Russia, coded for Eurasianist themes using the Atlas.ti program, and analyzed by news outlet, date published, and topic. The analysis finds that the Russian media portrays Indigenous peoples in Russia as largely having constructive working relationships with the Kremlin, while they depict Native Americans as striving towards secession and mired in constant conflict with the U.S. government, but having surreptitious affinities towards the Eurasian civilizational model.