Conference to Focus on Traditional Knowledge, Resource Management

The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society meets in Juneau this week.

Tribal and other government officials and staff will discuss climate change, subsistence, Arctic policy and dozens of other issues.

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Society activist Norman Jojola is natural resource manager for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Northern Pueblos Agency in New Mexico.

He says the conference will address the role of traditional knowledge in resource management.

“A lot of the Western knowledge tends to have them tell you what a certain species wants, what a certain species needs, this is how they’re going to survive. Instead of to me, as traditional knowledge would go out, look at the species, live with the species and let the species tell you what it wants rather than you telling it what it’s supposed to do.”

Some sessions will focus on fish hatchery operations and lead ammunition poisoning wildlife. Others will cover more recent issues, such as policing fracking and dealing with meth labs.

The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society meets Wednesday through Friday at Juneau’s Centennial Hall.

Another focus area is cooperative management.

Jojola says that’s important when tribes share borders.

“These animals have no sense of boundaries. And they’re going to move wherever they want to move and whenever they want to move. It’s always good that you have this cooperative effort in managing these resources because if you don’t, then you’re just fighting each other.”

The society began in the 1980s as a way to share information. That includes educating tribal youth about resource issues.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.