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Challenges in combining Indigenous and scientific knowledge in the Arctic

Olga Lauter

2023 United States

A ‘co-production of knowledge’ transdisciplinary approach connects different systems of knowledge that are in collaboration with each other. The transdisciplinarity presupposes bringing natural, social sciences, and Indigenous knowledge together. A growing body of literature on knowledge co-production and better control over research by Indigenous stakeholders contributes to a better collaboration of different knowledge holders. However, as power imbalance and issues of trust continue to persist, further analysis of case studies, where different knowledge holders collaborate, allow for a better understanding of how better long-term collaborations could be built. This reflection paper examines several observations and parts of interviews carried out during a recent ethnographic study on urban Indigenous identity preservation in Anchorage, Alaska in collaboration with the urban Yup’ik population. It may serve as an illustration of some challenges that might hinder the co-production of Indigenous knowledge and Western science. The observations examined in this paper may contribute to a further understanding of different approaches to learning of Arctic Indigenous and Western knowledge systems that are in need of further clarification to enable their better interaction for meeting current sustainability challenges.

Co-production of knowledge; sustainability; epistemological pluralism; Indigenous; Western knowledge