Use of traditional knowledge by the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to support resource management

Authors Name:   

James J. Kendall Jr., Jeffrey J. Brooks, Chris Campbell, Kathleen L. Wedemeyer, Catherine C. Coon, Sharon E. Warren, Guillermo Auad, Dennis K. Thurston, Rodney E. Cluck, Frances E. Mann, Sharon A. Randall, Mark A. Storzer, David W. Johnston, Deanna Meyer-Pietruszka, Michael L. Haller

Journal: Czech Polar Reports
Issue: 7
Volume: 2
Page Range: 151-163
No. of Pages: 13
Year: 2017


Publishers: muniPress Masaryk University Brno
ISSN:    1805-0689 (Print), 1805-0697 (On-line)
Language: English

Professionals who collect and use traditional knowledge to support resource management decisions often are preoccupied with concerns over how and if traditional knowledge should be integrated with science. To move beyond the integration dilemma, we treat traditional knowledge and science as distinct and complementary knowledge systems. We focus on applying traditional knowledge within the decision-making process. We present succinct examples of how the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has used traditional knowledge in decision making in the North Slope Borough, Alaska: 1) using traditional knowledge in designing, planning, and conducting scientific research; 2) applying information from both knowledge systems at the earliest opportunity in the process; 3) using traditional knowledge in environmental impacts assessment; 4) consulting with indigenous leaders at key decision points; and 5) applying traditional knowledge at a programmatic decision level. Clearly articulating, early in the process, how best to use traditional knowledge and science can allow for more complete and inclusive use of available and pertinent information.



Adaptive process, consultation, decision making, environmental impact analysis, indigenous knowledge, mitigation, North Slope Borough, scientific research, subsistence





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1 The North Slope Borough was established in 1972 as the local government with jurisdiction of the North Slope region of Alaska.


2 The United States Government, Department of Interior administers the submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed, lying between the seaward extent of the States' jurisdiction and the seaward extent of Federal jurisdiction (see Fig. 1). Federal jurisdiction is defined under accepted principles of international law. 


3 The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC Canada 2016) uses the term indigenous knowledge rather than traditional knowledge. The ICC views indigenous knowledge as a system of knowledge based in the worldview of indigenous peoples. It can be distinctly different from the Western worldview and scientific knowledge system. While the two sources of knowledge may complement each other in many cases, they are not the same and should be appreciated for what each is able to bring to the table (ICC Canada 2016). In certain contexts, traditional knowledge may be a smaller subset of a broader indigenous knowledge system (e.g. Stevenson 1996). For the purposes of this paper, BOEM considers traditional knowledge and indigenous knowledge to be synonyms.


4 The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970 is a United States environmental law that established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.


5 The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was signed into law December 18, 1971, constituting at the time the largest land claims settlement in Unites States history; ANCSA was intended to resolve long-standing issues surrounding aboriginal land claims in Alaska and stimulate economic development.



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Notes: ASSW