Arctic Conservation in the Hands of Indigenous Peoples

By Victoria Qutuuq Buschman
Wilson Quarterly
Winter 2022

Practicing conservation in more equitable and meaningful ways without sacrificing important end goals.

Since birth, I have been raised in a culture and society thriving despite the shadows of contemporary conservation. My roots are deep in the coastal tundra of northern Alaska, in the Iñupiat community of Utqiaġvik, where the management and conservation of land, water, and species have been a subject of debate for decades, and whose impact has been felt since the beginning of colonization. Known as the northernmost town in the United States, we are also home to the largest bowhead whaling community in the world. Our lives are a beautiful mix of the traditional and the modern, largely living off the land and water while partaking in the benefits of a globalizing world. We hunt, fish, and gather all manner of wild living resources and have done so sustainably for thousands of years. Our ability to  thrive in this mecca of ice, rock, and tundra with below -60F temperatures is a testament to our knowledge of this environment, the strength of our practices, and the sustainability of our way of life.

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