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In mid-September, NNI Director of Research Miriam Jorgensen joined staff of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (part of the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation) and the Foraker Group (a nonprofit consulting organization that serves Alaska’s nonprofit and Indigenous organizations) in Anchorage, AK, to facilitate a strategic planning session for the Indigenous People's Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM). IPCoMM is a coalition of tribal marine mammal commissions, other Native organizations, and tribes that works to protect the rights of Alaska Natives and their relationships with marine mammals. Since 1992, IPCoMM has worked collaboratively with local, state, and federal entities both to improve the conservation of marine mammals and to ensure food security for Alaska Natives. After 25 years and significant ecological, social, political, and economic changes to the environment in which its member organizations operate, IPCoMM is setting an agenda to grow its capacity and impact.
The convening organizations helped IPCoMM set strategic direction and long-term goals, while also considering the complexity of Alaska Native communities and the interconnectedness of their cultural lifeways with marine health and sustainability. Jonella Larsen White (Ququngaq), Lead Capacity Builder at Foraker, encouraged participants to hold an ancestral perspective and to think of the land, the water, and the lives that have and will depend on them over time. According to White, NNI and the US Institute helped anchor IPCoMM's cultural values while examining ways the organization will have to adapt to today's environment. White added, "NNI's strength in the room was their solutions-based research and analysis. They have compiled stories and case studies from all over Indian Country on what is working. Miriam Jorgensen brought with her the 30,000-foot view of tribal government as it related to federal government entities. This is such important work at the right time."
NNI and the US Institute have worked with IPCoMM throughout three organizational meetings on matters of governance, self-determined Indigenous development, and maintenance of subsistence Indigenous traditions and knowledge as circumpolar regions confront climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have funded the participation of NNI and the US Institute in this strategic planning work IPCoMM as it works to strengthen its organization and impact. NNI acknowledges the work of the University of Arizona Law graduate Elizabeth Hensley and the Foraker Group for their work with IPCoMM and other organizations to progress the rights of Alaska Natives.
Image credits: Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire (Two Sea Otters Uploaded by Aconcagua) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons (cover); Perhols from en.wikipedia (top); Marshmallow from Seattle, WA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons