Empowering Arctic Indigenous Scholars and Making Connections

Photo by Mark Goldner (PolarTREC 2011), Courtesy of ARCUSArctic Indigenous scholars have historically and continue to advance a variety of issues, such as food security, hunting and fishing rights, community resilience, climate change, biodiversity, and a number of other topics and disciplines. The information and understanding put forward by such scholars is invaluable. It is increasingly clear that the study of the Arctic depends upon successfully empowering Arctic Indigenous scholars with the opportunity to provide insight and expertise to those scientists studying the Arctic within the realm of academic research, often from urban-based settings. The objective of this opportunity, led by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) and the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Alaska, and supported by the National Science Foundation's Division of Arctic Sciences, is to create a space for Indigenous scholars to educate and inform policy- and decision-makers engaged in Arctic Issues from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

What is an Indigenous Scholar?

We define a scholar as a person who is an expert within their own knowledge system. No formal education is required.

2018 Indigenous Scholars - Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and Theresa Arevgaq John

Congratulations to the two Indigenous scholars for 2018 selected by our five-member volunteer selection committee, Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and Theresa Arevgaq John! We received many excellent applications for this opportunity and hope to continue it in the future. Theresa and Rosemary traveled to Washington D.C. in May 2018 where they met with leaders and policy-makers to discuss issues important to their communities. We are grateful to those who took time to meet with the scholars, including: The National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency - Office of International and Tribal Affairs, The Department of State offices of International Health & Biodefense and Environment & Global Change, The Smithsonian Institution's Arctic Studies Center, Senator Lisa Murkowski and staff, The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Department of Interior for hosting a multi-agency meeting at their headquarters.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak is an Inupiaq activist. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Medex Northwest Physician Assistant Program. She has fought tirelessly for the health and protection of her people and of the Arctic’s unparalleled wilderness that has sustained her culture for thousands of years. Rosemary is a former mayor of Nuiqsut and currently serves on the board of the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the regional tribal government for the North Slope, and is an executive council member of the Alaska Inter–Tribal Council. She received the 2009 Voice of the Wild Award from the Alaska Wilderness League. She is a founding board member of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands).

Theresa John

Theresa Arevgaq John is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cross-cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has authored numerous academic articles and a co-author of a book Yupiit Yuraryarait: Yup’ik Ways of Dancing and has presented her work at dozens of local, national, and international professional conferences. Dr. John currently serves on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum. She is a former member of the Alaskan State Council Arts and the former Chair of the Traditional Native Arts Panel. She is also the recipient of the Governor's Distinguished Humanities Educator Award and Alaska State Library Award. Dr. John received her B.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

As an advocate for Native education, she is highly involved in various organizations and projects that promote traditional Native culture, history, spirituality, language and education. Among John's many affiliations, she is involved in the University Alaska Native and Language Committee, Alaska Native Education and Computer Assisted Language Learning project. She is a member of the National Indian Education Association and a former member of the Statewide Bilingual Multicultural Education Council, Alaska Association for Bilingual Education, Alaska Native Heritage Center Project, Qayaqs and Canoes, Paddling into the Millennium Selection Committee, and Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. John has extensive performing experience, including several Yup'ik Traditional Dance Groups and her one woman show Yup'ik Arnaq. She is the founder of the Nunarpak Dancers at Alaska Pacific University, the Annual Cama-i Dance Festival in Bethel, the Inu-Yupiaq student Dancer Group at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, co-founder of the Tuma Theatre, and participated in the development of the Festival of Native Arts. John has performed all over the world, in festivals in Greenland, Greece, France, Russia, the Far East and Peru

Cultural Adaptation and Resilience in Arctic Climate Change

Arctic Research Seminar by Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John

Rosemary will also provide a seminar as part of the ARCUS Arctic Research Seminar Series in the near future.

Call for Applications - CLOSED

Due Thursday, 15 February 2018

To empower Indigenous scholars and provide a key opportunity for officials at U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other groups working on Arctic issues to learn and integrate information/perspectives from multiple Arctic knowledge systems, ARCUS and ICC Alaska invite applications from and/or nominations of leading Arctic Indigenous scholars to travel to Washington D.C. Two scholars will be selected to participate in 2018 and travel expenses and per diem will be provided. While the selected Arctic Indigenous Scholars are in D.C., ARCUS and ICC Alaska will facilitate meetings with officials at relevant U.S. government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other groups, where such scholars will be able to share their interests, learn of available resources, build toward collaborative relationships, and provide on-the-ground perspectives to key decision-makers. Also, Indigenous Scholars will provide an open seminar/webinar to Arctic policy-makers and others interested in the Arctic.

Participating Indigenous scholars will be selected by a committee composed of diverse Indigenous leaders, DC-area officials, and other Arctic researchers. Criteria for selection will include factors such as the Scholar's potential overall impact during their D.C. visit, applicant's ability to share the benefit from meeting with policy- and decision-makers, and the potential for that applicant to advance knowledge of all kinds and its application to real-world challenges through broader connectivity. Travel dates will be flexible within the months of April-May 2018.

Over the course of three to five days, the visiting scholar will be engaged in many formal and informal activities to connect with the Arctic research community located in Washington, DC. Depending upon the Scholar's specific expertise and interests, a customized agenda, as well as timing of the visit, will be scheduled. For example, the following types of activities may be included:

  • Seminar (with live-streamed and recorded webinar) at the ARCUS D.C. office.
  • Meetings with:
    • Senior Arctic research officials at agencies like the U.S. Arctic Research
      Commission and the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee;
    • Non-governmental organizations like the National Academy of Sciences Polar
      Research Board, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Arctic 21 coalition;
    • Federal agencies relevant to the Scholars' work, such as in the Department of
      the Interior (e.g., USFWS, USGS, USDA, BLM), Department of Commerce, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, or Environmental Protection Agency;
    • Representatives of other nation states or inter-governmental organizations.
    • Leading DC-area Arctic researchers; or
    • If appropriate, meetings with local science educators and their students.

Apply or Nominate a Scholar

ARPA Arctic Boundary MapCandidates should be Arctic Indigenous persons with U.S. citizenship. For this opportunity, we are using the Arctic geographic boundaries as described by the Arctic Research and Policy Act (see figure). To nominate an Indigenous scholar, simply send us a letter of nomination outlining why and how you believe the scholar and their community would benefit from this opportunity. Please provide full contact information for your nominee and we will follow up with them to complete the application process. Nomination letters can be emailed to lisa [at] arcus.org or mailed to ARCUS, 3535 College Road - Suite 101, Fairbanks, AK 99709-3710. Letters should be emailed or post-marked by 15 February 2018.

To apply for the opportunity yourself, please choose one of the following formats to submit your application:

  1. Online application form: https://www.arcus.org/indigenous-scholars/apply
  2. Download a printable application form and mail to Lisa Sheffield Guy, Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. 3535 College Road – Suite 101, Fairbanks, AK 99709-3710:
    Call for Indigenous Scholars - Application (PDF 120 KB)
    Call for Indigenous Scholars - Application (MS Word Document - 70 KB)
  3. Arrange a telephone interview to apply (applications via phone will be recorded for committee review). To schedule a time, please call the ARCUS office at 907-474-1600.

For any questions regarding the project or application process, please contact Lisa Sheffield Guy at lisa [at] arcus.org or 907-474-1600.

Project Personnel

Project Co-leads:
Carolina Behe, Indigenous Knowledge/Science Advisor, Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska
Robert Rich, Executive Director, Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S.

Project Manager:
Lisa Sheffield Guy, Project Manager, Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S.

Volunteer Selection Committee

Percy Ballot, Maniilaq Association, Buckland, AK
Alicia Bell-Sheeter, USDA Forest Service Office of Tribal Relations, Washington D.C.
Raychelle Daniel, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Washington, D.C.
Dalee Sambo Dorough, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
Gay Sheffield, Alaska Sea Grant, Nome, AK