Indigenous perspectives

An important theme that is revealed by the qualitative text analysis is a focus on indigenous people, both as observers of climate change and as vulnerable to its impacts. The quantitative comparison to the IPCC reports also show that the words indigenous, people, and peoples occur more often in the ACIA scientific report. Moreover, indigenous peoples' issues are explicitly in focus in several of the ACIA chapters, i.e. Chapter 3. The Changing Arctic: Indigenous Peoples Perspectives, Chapter 12. Hunting, Herding, Fishing, and Gathering: Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic, and Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience. In these chapters, indigenous peoples worked as active participants in the framing of climate change. The following quotes illustrate the level of their participation:

The case studies are based on extensive work in partnership with indigenous communities, and the chapter as a whole has developed with significant advice, guidance, and input from the Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council.44

The Finnmark example provides a more in-depth analysis of Sami reindeer herding developed through a collaborative effort involving scientists and herders, a subset of whom are authors of this chapter.45

Indigenous people's observations also play a role in several other chapters, but as a complement to data from the natural sciences and usually taken from published literature. The picture that emerges from the text analysis is consistent with ACIA's own

44 Chapter 12. Hunting, Herding, Fishing and Gathering. Indigenous Peoples and Renewable Resource Use in the Arctic, 686.

45 Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience, 946.

framing of the relationship between science and indigenous knowledge, which is a portrait of a partnership. Figure 6.2. is an example of how the ACIA chair presents the cooperation. The relationship is also described in the following quote from the preface of the overview document:

The ACIA is a comprehensively researched, fully referenced, and independently reviewed evaluation of arctic climate change and its impacts for the region and for the world, and also includes the special knowledge of indigenous peoples.46

Figure 6.2. The connection between science and indigenous knowledge as it was represented in a presentation by the ACIA chair Robert Corell.

Indigenous knowledge and perspectives are not used equally in all chapters. In some chapters they are almost absent. Therefore it is of interest to analyze where they occur and what perspectives they bring to the report. In the principal component analysis of selected key words, the words indigenous, people, and peoples are clustered with case studies and words that relate to social sciences, such as social and cultural. Both the qualitative and quantitative analyses show that common to all these chapters are the local perspectives that are focused at the community level.

What then are the potential drivers behind the emphasis on the local/indigenous/social science cluster? One factor could be the regime of the Arctic Council as the policy home of the assessment and where there is a norm to ensures indigenous participation in scientific assessments. However, the ACIA ensures this to a

46 ACIA, Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, preface.

Figure 6.2. The connection between science and indigenous knowledge as it was represented in a presentation by the ACIA chair Robert Corell.

greater degree than previous assessments under the auspices of the Arctic Council. As suggested earlier this could partly be explained by a strong preference to include indigenous knowledge from the ACIA chair. As one of the lead authors for a chapter focusing on indigenous issues expressed: "This chapter and the material were actively solicited from the beginning and again I credit Bob Corell and the others for their leadership in making this one of the focal areas of the assessment."47 There was also a push by the representatives of the Permanent Participants, throughout the process, for assessment members to pay attention to indigenous perspectives. An example of this is seen from a meeting of the Assessment Steering Committee where the protocol notes a "contention by Native communities that insufficient attention is being paid to their experiences and knowledge."48 A lead author, who has previously been involved with AMAP assessments, also pointed out that there was more research on indigenous observations available.49 The push from the ACIA chair was based on the failure to bring indigenous perspectives into the US national assessment and the need to do a better job this time.50 He, therefore, consciously worked to get indigenous perspectives into the ACIA. For example, he worked actively to get indigenous people involved in a chapter with a focus on vulnerability: Chapter 17. Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Stressors and Resilience, which includes a case study of Saami reindeer herders.

In addition to the Arctic Council norms and the interests of the ACIA chair, I suggest that the emphasis on including indigenous perspectives is connected to broad-scale political developments of decolonization in the Arctic and an increasingly strong recognition of indigenous peoples' rights. And in fact, words like rights and political are used more frequently in the chapters in the local/indigenous/social science cluster than elsewhere in the report. The inclusion also follows a growth of indigenous-initiated activities to document local observations, sometimes in collaboration with scientists, which has created paths for this knowledge into the published, citable literature.51 The coverage of indigenous knowledge is stronger in North America than Fennoscandia and Russia because of the stronger political focus on devolution and indigenous rights in North America. IPCC's Working Group II report also uses the words indigenous, political, and rights, but not to the same degree as the ACIA, which supports a conclusion that this cluster is part of a larger general political development. Even if it is difficult to separate the influence of the Arctic Council from more general trends, it should at least be seen as part of a global discourse with the possibility that the framing gains extra strength in knowledge production about the Arctic than globally because of the norms of the Arctic Council.

47 Interview Henry Huntington, December 21, 2004.

48 Summary Report on the Sixth Assessment Steering Committee (ASC) Meeting, October 15-18, 2000, Seattle, Washington, USA.

49 Interview Henry Huntington, December 21, 2004.

50 Interview Robert Corell, November 21, 2004.

51 Pointed out to me by Terry Fenge, see also Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment."

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment