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Inuit Circumpolar Council Holds Summit in Nome on ‘Food Sovereignty’

Muktuk

The Inuit Circumpolar Council–Alaska (ICC–Alaska) is hosting a food sovereignty summit in Nome this week. The summit will be an opportunity for Alaskan Inuit across the state to discuss issues of food access and management rights with respect to traditional food resources.

According to the ICC, this week’s summit is the centerpiece of a three-year Food Sovereignty Initiative and follows up on the organization’s previous work on wildlife management reform.

ICC-Alaska leadership believes this week’s discussions will lead to similar reform and hopes to draft an “Alaskan Inuit Food Sovereignty Management Action Plan.” They hope the plan will lead to long-term systematic and policy change. The Alaskan council does not believe the current system supports their food security and sovereignty.

Jimmy Stotts is the President of ICC–Alaska.

“In a nutshell, what this initiative aims to do is create a political action plan for our people to approach government to change regulation, concerning access to food resources both land and sea, and to be more involved in the management of those resources.”

ICC–Alaska has already hosted two Initiative committee meetings, one in Utqiaġvik this past January and the other in Bethel last April.

After the Utqiaġvik meeting, Stotts elaborated on the nature of the Food Sovereignty Initiative, saying “Prior to outside, imposed management systems that have historically marginalized and not included Inuit, the utilization of traditional, holistic management practices over traditional food resources sustained our people for thousands of years.”

The ICC represents four regional entities made up of Inuit people in Alaska. They are the North Slope, Northwest Arctic, Bering Strait, and Yukon–Kuskokwim regions. Vernae Angnaboogok, ICC–Alaska’s Cultural Sustainability Advisor, hopes all four will be represented at this week’s Summit.

“We look forward to our regions coming together to collectively decide on an approach that will work for everybody.”

A fourth and final committee meeting on Alaskan Inuit food sovereignty is scheduled for next spring and will focus on drafting the political action plan.

Image at top: Muktuk from the Barrow whaling festival. Photo: Dayneé Rosales, KNOM file (2014).