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Two Knowledge Holders Lost: Mourning Galina Varlamova and Teijo Feodoroff

Keptuke in 2004. Snowchange

Keptuke in 2004. Snowchange

June and early July brought shocking news. Two prominent knowledge keepers, Galina “Keptuke” Varlamova of the Evenki and Teijo Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi Fisherman and Elder, have passed on.

Galina “Keptuke” Varlamova was born in 1951 to an Evenki nomadic hunter-reindeer herding family in the Amur region of Siberia, Russia. Between 1969 and 1974 she was trained in the Herzen Institute in St. Petersburg where she acquired skills as a folklorist and accomplished linguist.

Keptuke went on to publish several scientific monographs, fiction and shorter pieces of scholarly and fictional material over her productive career. She defended her Russian Doctoral Thesis in 2002. Professionally she associated with local Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, especially the Indigenous Peoples Instutute.

Keptuke in 2004

Keptuke in 2004

In her scientific work Keptuke discussed the varied genres of Evenki folklore, traditions, beliefs and fairy tales. Because of her analysis we have a clear understanding of the systematic categories of the oral traditions of the Evenki. However, Keptuke was not confined to office work – together for example with Anna Myreeva she led expeditions to Iengra and other Evenki settlements in Yakutia already in 1980s.

Snowchange started to work with Keptuke in 2004. She was one of the founding and guiding scholars on the work of the Evenki oral histories of climate and ecological change under Snowchange Yakutia work that has focused on Iengra and Zhigansk communities. Keptuke presented her materials for example for the Snowchange 2005 Conference in Alaska, USA where Doctor Tamara Andreeva gave the presentation of the oral traditions of the Evenki.

In subsequent years we worked with Keptuke and her colleagues to compile materials for the Evenki Atlas. The first version of the atlas is now online and we expect to expand the materials of the atlas over the next years to make sure the lifework of Keptuke will be kept and cherished.

Teijo Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi knowledge holder. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky

Teijo Feodoroff, Skolt Sámi knowledge holder. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky

In early July we also learned of the passing of the knowledge holder, hunter, fisherman, Teijo Feodoroff from Sevettijärvi, Finland. Teijo was a Skolt Sámi and was born in the community. He worked with the Näätämö Co-Management Work from its inception in 2011. 

Teijo practiced Sámi traditional lifeways including ptarmigan hunting and fishing in all of its forms from net fishery to fish traps and seining. He had acquired those skills from his grandfather and father with whom he fished on lake Opukasjärvi in the Näätämö stream. Already at the age of 10 Teijo mastered the traditional rulla lure fishering for Atlantic Salmon.

During the work for Näätämö Co-Management Work Teijo was able to convey a range of significant observations and Indigenous knowledge to detect rapidly advancing climate change and shifts in the health and habitats of Atlantic Salmon. For example the size of the smaller salmon returning to the stream according to him had diminished. He was especially concerned about the impact of the mining activities in Kirkenes to the health of the incoming salmon. Rhythms and spawning times of the salmon were clear to Teijo as a part of the greater tapestry of life and cycles of nature.

Perhaps of most relevance were the customary rules and laws that Teijo mastered, unbroken amongst the Skolt Sámi. They contained knowledge of how to treat the river and lakes, how all parts of the fish should be used and in times of scarcity there was a need to limit the catches to make sure that Skolt Sámi will not take more than nature can provide.

Jouko Moshnikoff (left) and Teijo fishing, 2014. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky

Jouko Moshnikoff (left) and Teijo fishing, 2014. Photo: Gleb Raygorodetsky

Teijo was a co-author and contributor to over six international peer reviewed papers and range of monographs. This included the high ranking Science journal. We can determine Teijo achieved the level of a doctor based on his Indigenous knowledge of his homeland.

Teijo will be mourned by widow Kaarina and large extended family. Funeral proceedings monday 8th July, 2019 in Sevettijärvi.

 

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Pacific Standard Discusses Snowchange Reports and Arctic Railway

A northern railway in the Barents region. Snowchange, 2018.

A northern railway in the Barents region. Snowchange, 2018.

A US journal Pacific Standard discusses the plans for the Arctic Railway and preliminary Snowchange assessments which we did for the Sámi Council. Also it reflects on the China geopolitics and presence in the region. Article available here.

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Summer Expands Snowchange Work to New Levels

Asko and Markku on fish traps, June 2019

Asko and Markku on fish traps, June 2019

Summer is here. Fish traps in North Karelia are full of vendace and both rewilding work, monitoring and international conferences are about to start. The season is the biggest ever in Snowchange history in terms of restoration and community-led climate work.

A new peer-reviewed science paper has been released about the Snowchange rewilding results. ”Safe Places” discusses results of a six year monitoring mission. Loss of boreal wetlands in Finland has negative consequences for waders, ducks and local socio-ecological systems. These changes result from over 70-years of human-made alterations to land and waterscapes. Climate change and associated extreme events are expected to be further drivers of negative change. In order to build resilience and seek answers to these challenges, a five-year monitoring of Linnunsuo, a 120-ha human-made wetland was conducted. Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and Northern pintail (Anas acuta) were the indicator species. Analysis of co-management complemented the review. Results indicate that the creation of well-designed wetlands has the potential to increase resilience of these socio-ecological systems. They are cost-effective and can be replicated across the boreal region to address the need of habitat loss and climate impacts.

Recently acquired old growth forest site in North Karelia. Mika Honkalinna

Recently acquired old growth forest site in North Karelia. Mika Honkalinna

Over the past three months, thanks to new partnerships with Triodos in Netherlands and other supporters, we have been able to acquire roughly 250 hectares of new lands, both in the boreal and in the Sámi home area, to be rewilded. Currently the bird monitoring and other actions are underway on these sites. Re-wilding Finland is now a registered trademark of Snowchange and will continue to be used in association with the rewilding programme.

Pitämisuo is the latest addition to the rewilding programme. Snowchange

Pitämisuo is the latest addition to the rewilding programme. Snowchange

For North America the almost 20-year compilation of climate change materials from Unalakleet, AK will reach its conclusion this summer with the writing of a new science paper. New staff member Brie Van Dam, Ph D, is co-authoring. She is currently taking part and speaking at the ”Arctic Indigenous Climate Summit” in Alaska on the Gwitchin and Snowchange long-term cooperation. Skolt Sámi

Reindeer on Pitämisuo, Finland. Mika Honkalinna

Reindeer on Pitämisuo, Finland. Mika Honkalinna

coordinator Pauliina Feodoroff travels to Alaska to visit Indigenous communities of the Indigenous Food Security Network project.

Later in June, we will gather in Dease Lake, British Columbia for another Indigenous and local community Summit to discuss community-based monitoring, establishment of Indigenous and community-conserved Areas – ICCAs and other work for North America. Several steering committee members will be present. Subsequently a visit to Elwha river restoration project follows in Washington, USA.

In July both the Skolt Sámi work and boreal restoration will proceed. We are working on translation and expansion of the Evenki Atlas into Russian. IPCC meetings in Nepal will be complemented with a strong Snowchange presence at the 2019 Species on the Move in South Africa. More updates follow as the summer proceeds.

Traps are full in June.

Traps are full in June.

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Paul Molyneaux Visits North Karelia

image_10Paul Molyneaux is visiting Snowchange fisheries  in North Karelia, Finland this week. He will visit Selkie at the HQ with fish traps on lake Palojärvi and then spend the day in Puruvesi and in the region visiting with fishing communities in Eastern Finland.

He is the author of The Doryman’s Reflection: A Fisherman’s Life; Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture and the End of Wild Oceans; and A Child’s Walk in the Wilderness. He has written about commercial fishing for the New York Times and other publications, and won a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship to study sustainable fisheries in India, Chile, Iceland and several other countries. He lives in Maine and Mexico.

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Land is Life and Snowchange Cooperative Launch Indigenous-Led Grantmaking in the Arctic Supporting Five Grassroots Initiatives in North American Arctic

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In an effort to better address the needs of the Indigenous-rights movement at the grassroots level in the Arctic region, Land is Life has partnered with Snowchange Cooperative, to launch our Indigenous-Led Grantmaking initiative in the North American Arctic. This has included sites in the boreal and sub-Arctic.
Indigenous-Led Grantmaking is an approach developed by Land is Life and its global network to provide support through small, flexible funds to grassroots Indigenous leaders, communities and organizations around the globe based on self determination. For this regional pilot initiative, Tero Mustonen of Snowchange Cooperative, identified small, yet important initiatives within the North American Arctic and will work with recipients to monitor, evaluate and report in a way that recognizes their unexpected and frequently changing circumstances and upholds their right to self-determination.

_MG_6754Additionally, Snowchange has been conducting a wide-ranging climate change, wellbeing and youth-oriented initiatives to document climate change impacts and traditional knowledge, identify community-based measures to adapt to those changes and provide culturally-appropriate mechanisms for transfer of Indigenous knowledge, culture and ways of life to youth on land at the same time. Land is Life has agreed to collaborate on and co-sponsor an event organized by SnowChange Cooperative which will  convene an intergenerational group of Indigenous people to to share this work and discuss the realities and potential solutions to these new and growing challenges.

This new partnerships builds off experience in the region through our long-term capacity building partnership with the Gwich’in Steering Committee which has been supported through NoVo Foundation.

The funded projects are:
Tahltan Community Based Monitoring Programme
Indigenous Organisation: Tū’dese̲’chō Wholistic Indigenous Leadership Development Society Location: Northern British Columbia and Yukon, Canada
This proposal addresses a part of the North American north which is often excluded from Arctic cooperation due to its location at the BC-Yukon borderlands. It is also central location for the pristine Stikine watershed. There are no land claims in place and the people are interested in advancing steps towards Indigenous sovereignty  and progressive climate work. The proposal will organize a community meeting, take first steps in CBM monitoring and engage local schools and scientists. The LIL grant funding will allow hunters, youth and Elders to participate in the overall mission and a more level dialogue with science and governmental parts of a monitoring mission.

Atlas Mapping Project
Indigenous Organisation: Hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet
Location: Nunavut, Canada
This hamlet wishes to start creating an online atlas of traditional land uses, place names, ecology and archaeology. Of special interest is the focus on caribou as a keystone species. It is recommended that a seed fund is provided from the LIL grant to focus specifically on  Elder’s knowledge documentation.

Inuinnaqtun Mentor-Apprentice Project
Indigenous Organisation: Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq / Kitikmeot Heritage Society
Location: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada
This mentor-apprentice programme proposal addresses a real and urgent need. The speakers of Inuinnaqtun are being affected by rapid cultural change and despite the success of Nunavut as an Inuit-led territory on other fields, it is true that the linguistic revitalization is doing poorly. Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq also points correctly to the fact that worldviews, key Indigenous cultural concepts and relationships with the land can only be expressed in Inuinnaqtun.

Unangax Plants as Foods and Medicine Symposium
Indigenous Organisation: Aleutian Pribilof Islands Assocation, Inc.
Location: Unalaska, Alaska
This project wishes to convey Unangax Indigenous knowledge at an event designed to revitalize and promote the he traditional plant knowledge of the community. This work includes linguistic terms of plants, revitalization of traditional knowledge and documentation of existing knowledge, making plant salves and other healing elements, preservation of foods and herbal teas. The project is led by a respected Aleut organisation and the plan is solid and credible.

Painting the Future of Unalakleet Weather: Merging Science, Indigenous Knowledge and Inupiaq Youth Voices for Community Climate Assessment
Indigenous Organisation: Unalakleet Community
Location: Unalakleet, Alaska
Unalakleet is the hub of the Norton Sound communities and the center of the Bering Strait School District. The region according to the proposal suffers from intensifying impacts on the coastal erosion, storm events and temperature changes. The project participants, representing citizens and members of the Inupiaq population of Unalakleet are proposing to finding solutions through Indigenous knowledge and science. The project will produce a first-ever science paper of Inupiaq knowledge specifically from Unalakleet and weather data of the baseline changes, western science assessment of the urgent issues on Norton Sound and a “visions of the future” youth Indigenous arts action for allowing the youngest to express their views on the changes under way. International Snowchange Co-op is providing co-funds and the Bering Sea School District will work on the project youth aspect (initial agreement in April 2019).

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