Community Partnerships for Self-Reliance (CPS) is a group that coordinates engagement and respectful knowledge-sharing between University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) expertise and rural Alaska communities and tribes. These partnerships:
- support communities as they create and carry out research priorities that they have identified as consistent with their long-term vision
- enhance research capacity at UAF by informing the research process with questions that matter to the future sustainability of Alaska’s unique and diverse rural communities
CPS began in 2013 with a collaboration between UAF, the Alaska Native Science Commission and the communities of Igugig, Nikolai, Koyukuk, and Newtok that focused on:
- integrating renewable energy
- documenting the history of flooding
- identifying legal constraints for community relocation
- addressing the community impacts from salmon closures on the Kuskokwim River
Community-based monitoring partnership
Living off the Land: Environmental impacts to access in Interior Alaska
Between 2016 and 2017, 26 observers from nine communities in Interior Alaska documented climate-related environmental conditions that were affecting their travel to areas used for hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering. Conditions included ice, snow, erosion, sedimentation, water levels, vegetation composition, and weather.
In 2018, these observations were assembled into a compelling interactive story that includes seasonal observations paired with accompanying photos. To illustrate the observations on a larger, statewide scale, the story also includes maps overlaid with Alaska climate data.
We thank all of the observers—as well as the Beaver Traditional Council, Grayling Tribal Council, Holy Cross Tribal Council, Nulato Tribal Council, and Native Village of Venetie Tribal Governments—for their help in producing this story. We could not have done it without them.
Community-based research partnerships
Traditional harvest practices are an important part of community self-reliance, wellbeing, and sustainability for Alaska Native communities. Impacts from climate change, changes in wildlife and fish availability, energy prices, and subsistence regulations all present significant challenges to rural communities’ self-reliance.
In 2016, with funding from the National Science Foundation, CPS extended invitations to all tribes, village corporations, and cities in Interior Alaska to participate in two-year community research partnerships focused on strengthening traditional hunting, fishing, trapping, or gathering practices. The tribal governments of Anvik, Nulato, Koyukuk, Ruby, Huslia, and Venetie responded to the invitation.
These research partnerships are building community and university capacity by assembling diverse expertise to address local concerns in the context of rapid changes affecting harvest practices.
Examples of community-based projects and community-identified research
- Developing a traditional Deg Xinag place name atlas with the community of Anvik that supports decisions of current and future community leaders as they respond to changes that affect their traditional territories
- Developing a food sovereignty assessment with the community of Ruby
- Assessing if changes in environmental factors such as leaf fall and water levels are impacting moose harvest success in Nulato
- Assessing local and non-local moose harvest conflicts on the Koyukuk River