text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation Home National Science Foundation - Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE)
Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE)
design element
SBE Home
About SBE
Funding Opportunities
Advisory Committee
Career Opportunities
See Additional SBE Resources
View SBE Staff
SBE Organizations
Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
SBE Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (SMA)
Proposals and Awards
Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
Proposal Preparation and Submission
bullet Grant Proposal Guide
  bullet Grants.gov Application Guide
Award and Administration
bullet Award and Administration Guide
Award Conditions
Merit Review
NSF Outreach
Policy Office
Additional SBE Resources
Advisory Committee Meetings
Career Opportunities
Funding Rates
Budget Excerpt
Research on Cognition and Behavior
Research on Human Behavior in Time and Space
Research on Cooperation and Conflict
Exploring What Makes Us Human
Rebuilding the Mosaic Report
Bringing People Into Focus: How Social, Behavioral & Economic Research Addresses National Challenges
"Youth Violence: What We Need to Know" Report to NSF
Social, Behavioral and Economic Research in the Federal Context Report
Expedited Review of Social and Behavioral Research Activities Report
SBE Advisory Committee Web Site (for members only)
Other Site Features
Special Reports
Research Overviews
Multimedia Gallery
Classroom Resources
NSF-Wide Investments

Email this pagePrint this page

Press Release 07-030
Survey Reveals Family Ties and Traditional Activities Keep Arctic Communities Vital

Results will be released March 22 in Anchorage

Hunting is among traditional Arctic wasy of life

An Arctic hunter
Credit and Larger Version

March 21, 2007

A newly released survey of indigenous Arctic people indicates that an overwhelming majority of the region's native people think traditional pursuits such as hunting, boat-building and manufacturing crafts are important to their identity. Unique because it measured quality of life and involved them in data gathering, the survey also says a substantial portion engages in traditional activities in addition to working in the cash economy.

"Four decades ago, as wage work rapidly became more common in the north, scientists and policymakers assumed that indigenous people would take advantage of opportunities to participate in the cash economy, abandoning harvest and traditional food processing activities," report notes.

The survey results indicate that despite lifestyle changes that have swept into northern communities as non-natives move to remote areas, traditional values still are important to native peoples, and they are willing to use their earnings in the cash economy to support those ways of life. Despite historical efforts by national governments to assimilate native peoples and encourage them to give up native traditions in favor of wage labor, nine out of 10 Inuit continue to think traditional activities are important to their identity.

The findings come from the "Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA)," which was produced through a partnership of indigenous peoples and researchers from the United States, Canada, Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Researchers hope the study results will provide Native organizations and local governments across the Arctic with information to help make policy decisions. As a major step toward that goal, the team is hosting an international meeting with indigenous policy makers March 22 in Anchorage, Alaska.

The survey results will be posted on the Web on March 22 at www.arcticlivingconditions.org.

"In Alaska, most products of hunting, fishing and gathering do not enter the market economy. Rather, subsistence products are directly consumed by the harvesting household, given away or exchanged," the report states. "Cash plays an important role in the Alaska mixed economy, however. Money buys snow machines, gas and ammunition."

More than 7,000 interviews were conducted between 1998 and 2001 to gather the survey data. In short, the survey concludes, "it takes money to pursue traditional activities. But households with higher incomes can, and do, choose to spend income on these activities."

"Unlike previous attempts to sample and quantify information about the lives of indigenous Arctic peoples, SLiCA aims to measure the quality of life conditions in ways that Arctic residents find important," said Jack Kruse, the U.S. project team leader. "It also documents and compares living conditions among the indigenous peoples of various regions of the Arctic and improves the understanding of living conditions in ways that will benefit Arctic residents."

Kruse also noted that the International Polar Year (IPY)--a two-year, concentrated campaign of field science across a broad spectrum of disciplines which began earlier this month--provides an unmatched international framework for conducting such research by encouraging scientists to work across both national and disciplinary borders.

"I am excited to see the results of this very ambitious effort that is quintessentially the kind of work that IPY should be about, especially through its circumpolar Arctic scientific and community collaboration," said Anna Kerttula de Echave, director of the Arctic social sciences program in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Office of Polar Programs. "A key element of the project was the inclusion of indigenous people in conceptualizing the survey instrument and collecting data. This research is an excellent example of NSF's efforts to increase the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the sciences," she said.

NSF is the lead U.S. government agency for IPY.

Of the more than $6 million for the project, $1.4 million was supported by NSF. Other support came from the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Statistics Canada, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Greenland Home Rule government.

SLiCA also is part of the Arctic and Human Health Initiative (AHHI), a project of the Arctic Council. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Arctic Investigations Program and the National Institutes of Health's Fogarty International Center support the the AHHI.

Other major findings of the survey include:

  • Family ties, social support of each other, and traditional activities have a lot to do with why indigenous people choose to remain in Arctic communities.
  • Well-being is closely related to job opportunities, locally available fish and game, and a sense of local control. Improving well-being may reduce social problems such as depression and related problems like suicide.
  • Health conditions vary widely in the Arctic: three in four Greenlandic Inuit self-rate their health as at least "very good" compared with one in two Canadian and Alaska Inuit and one in five Chukotka indigenous people.

"The North Slope of Alaska appears to be a success story; the Inupiat there were successful in forming a regional government funded through taxation of petroleum facilities," the report notes. "They have effectively used their access to economic resources to influence such bodies as the International Whaling Commission and to manage development."


Media Contacts
Dena Headlee, NSF, (703) 292-7739, dheadlee@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Anna M. Kerttula de Echave, NSF, (703) 292-7432, akerttul@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Jack Kruse, SLiCA U.S. project team leader, (301) 910 1630, afjak@uaa.alaska.edu

Related Websites
The U.S. government's IPY Web portal: http://www.ipy.gov
The Survey of Arctic Living Conditions Web site: http://www.arcticlivingconditions.org
Arctic Human Health Initiative: http://www.iuch.org/ipy.html

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page