Sealaska Heritage


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Sept. 9, 2014


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a noon lecture this month on climate change and its impact on Native cultures.

Lecturer Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oxford, will discuss how climate change is being perceived by indigenous people and how these changes are affecting cultural and biological diversity in the coastal environment of northwestern North America.

Wyllie de Echeverria is doing her research in part as a visiting scholar at SHI. The institute sponsors the program for graduate students enrolled into an accredited educational institution or professors engaged in research that advances knowledge of Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian culture, language, arts, or history.

Wyllie de Echeverria received a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. at the University of Victoria, Canada, in plant ecology and taxonomy and ethnobotany, before moving to the University of Oxford to complete a Ph.D in ethnoecology.

The lecture is free but donations for construction of the Walter Soboleff building will be accepted. It’s scheduled for noon, Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Sealaska boardroom. People are invited to bring their own lunch.

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 12-1pm

Sealaska Plaza, 4th Floor Boardroom

Bring your own lunch

Linking interactions between cultural and biological diversity on the Pacific Coast of North America in the face of climate change
Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria
Ph.D. candidate, University of Oxford

Abstract: In this presentation I will be discussing preliminary comments from research interviews and the background and broader significance of my Ph.D. research at the University of Oxford, where I am investigating the magnitude of historical environmental shifts in the coastal estuarine ecosystem in several Indigenous communities on the northern coast of British Columbia and Alaska. This research will address three main questions: (1) The linkages between cultural and biological diversity in this region; (2) how these two forms of diversity alter and co-adapt in relation to each other as the environment changes – a phenomenon which seems to be particularly tied to climatic change; and (3) How these past and current changes will continue to affect both the local people and the landscape into the future, and how local people can adapt to these changes, particularly the ability to harvest resources. My research is composed of a mixed-methods interdisciplinary approach, bridging between Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western science. For one portion of my project I am recording and analyzing how local Indigenous people in northern British Columbia and southeast Alaska are recognizing climate change and how this is affecting important resources. For another portion I am also reviewing historical time series ecological datasets (i.e. aerial photos and weather station data) to document how the landscape has changed over time. Viewing these questions through multidisciplinary and multicultural lenses will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of coastal zone changes at the landscape scale.

Sealaska Heritage Institute was founded in 1980 to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars. Its mission is to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

CONTACT: Chuck Smythe, Culture and History Director, 907.586.9282