Collaborative Research: Food Sovereignty and Self-Governance – Inuit Role in Managing Arctic Marine Resources

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, traditional food, subsistence, food security

Principal Investigator: Behe, Carolina (3)
Licence Number: 16154
Organization: Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska
Licensed Year(s): 2019 2018 2017
Issued: Jul 28, 2017
Project Team: David Roche (Co-PI, Environmental Law Institute ), Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough (Co-PI, University of Alaska Anchorage Campus), Cynthia Harris (Research Team / Staff Attorney , Environmental Law Institute ), Teresa Chan (Research Team / Canadian Law Advisor, Environmental Law Institute ), Vera Metcalf (Senior Personnel, Advisory Committee, Eskimo Walrus Commission), Lucinda Wieler (Research Team, Eskimo Walrus Commission), Kristin Hynes (Research Team/Senior Personnel, Fisheries Joint Management Committee), Inuvialuit Game Council Research Team (Inuvialuit Game Council Research Team, Inuvialuit Game Council ), Research Facilitator (identified by NSF as research facilitator) / language translator (Research Facilitator / language translator, Fisheries Hired through Joint Management Committee), Research Assistant (identified by NSF as research facilitator) (Research Assistant (identified by NSF as research facilitator) , Research Assistant (identified by NSF as research facilitator), Hired through Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska), Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee, Association of Village Council Presidents), Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee, Kuskokwim Regional Intertribal Fish Commission), Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee, Fisheries Joint Management Committee), Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee, Inuvialuit Game Council), Pitseolalaq Moss-Davies (Advisory Committee, Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada)

Objective(s): To understand whether and how Inuit self-governance systems support food sovereignty.

Project Description: Objectives if this research project are to: 1) synthesize and evaluate existing legal frameworks for Inuit self-governance reflected in legal authorities in the United States and Canada; 2) evaluate how existing Inuit self-governance approaches operate in practice by examining four co-management case studies as examples of approaches to food sovereignty, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the social, political, and institutional parameters affecting implementation of key legal frameworks; and 3) understand whether and how Inuit self-governance systems support food sovereignty by evaluating food sovereignty objectives against legal frameworks and implementation of those systems in practice.

The objectives will answer the following three questions:
Which legal structures, designed to promote Inuit self-governance, best support Inuit food sovereignty objectives and resource sustainability? How do existing Inuit self-governance approaches operate in practice? How do Inuit self-governance systems support food sovereignty? What are the differences between the United States/Alaskan and Canadian co-management structures?

Research design approach includes: focus groups, semi-directive interviews, participant observations, archival research, qualitative analysis, and one workshop.

This research project has been designed in collaboration with the Eskimo Walrus Commission (EWC), Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP), Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC) and the Fisheries Joint Management Committee (FJMC). The board members and/or commissioners of the co-management institutions will be the key participants of the focus groups and take part in semi-directive interviews. The executive members will be involved in identifying additional key informants for semi-directive interviews.

Members of each respective co-management institution have been elected by their geographic area (village and/or community) to represent and speak on behalf of their interests. These will be the people participating in the focus groups. Additional interviews may take place with people chosen by each respective co-management group and/or tribal councils or community leaders. If a tribal council or community leaders are asked to nominate people for semi-directive interviews, they will be asked, by letter, to recommend individuals who possess knowledge about the research topic. The Principal Investigator (PI) and/or the research facilitator/ language translator, research team members from FJMC and/or IGC will then approach individuals to determine interest in participating.

Additional communities will be visited in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to ensure an opportunity to participate in the project from people engaged in char and/or beluga management is provided to those in more remote areas.

Research will take place in Anchorage, Bethel, and Nome, Alaska, and in Inuvik, Ulukhaktok, and Paulatuk.

The PI's and research team will utilize literature and law review, elicitation techniques and participant observation, obtaining information and the perceptions of Inuit key informants through conversations, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The interview and analysis process will employ Inuit customs of holding discussions in conjunction with meals and associated activities, and through casual conversations in places selected by the interviewee. The process will ensure sufficient flexibility to conduct individual and/or group interviews.

A legal review will take place of public legal documents in both Canada and the United States. Co-PI, David Roche, and research team members, Cynthia Harris and Teresa Chan, will lead this review. Through this review no raw data will be looked at. Ms. Chan will engage in participant observation. It is not expected that Mr. Roche or Ms. Harris will come in contact with raw data. However, they may come in contact with participants and some point and will engage in teleconference meetings with collaborating co-management institutions. For this reason, they have gone through the CITI training.

PIs will use drafted questions, to hold preliminary interviews first with the Advisory Committee members, (the EWC, AVCP, KRITFC, and the FJMC) and the Inuit Circumpolar Canada, in order to further focus the research project and questions to be used during focus group meetings and semi-directive interviews. Following an initial project meeting, Co- PI Ms. Behe and a research facilitator will facilitate focus group discussions.

Interviews will be recorded and transcribed, and notes will be taken. Individual interviews will be transcribed and returned to the informant for final approval, providing an opportunity to delete and/or add information, in accordance with findings from past research describing best practices for Inuit researcher interaction.

Individual participants will have an opportunity to share with others their knowledge and experiences and to develop relationships and promote learning across co-management institutions. Individuals will have opportunity to contribute as active contributors to this co-production of knowledge research (where no one person’s information or knowledge is more important than another person’s information or knowledge).

Project PIs anticipate the work’s significance will be four-fold, in that it will: 1) advance scholarship of legal systems and practices related to management and co-management broadly—and Inuit self-governance specifically—in the context of marine food security; 2) inform Arctic policy-makers about the status, rights, and roles of Inuit and aid their understanding of opportunities for and obstacles to collaboration in managing marine resources; 3) support Inuit communities in developing more effective approaches to self-governance; and 4) inspire adaptive and collaborative management schemes equipped to optimize Inuit traditional economic, social, environmental, and cultural outcomes in the face of large-scale socioeconomic and ecological transformation.

One of the objectives of the project is to disseminate project findings to Inuit, state/territorial, national, and international leaders to support and drive improvements to ongoing collaborative management of Arctic marine resources in the face of rapid Arctic change.

Communication will occur through FJMC and IGC. Additionally information will be provided directly to Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, and Tuktoyaktuk. All participants in the work will be communicated with directly (their approval of final products is required). Communication will be in the form of email and written documents.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 17, 2017 to December 4, 2017.