The Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) partners with Indigenous organizations and researchers to facilitate the collection, preservation, exchange, and use of Indigenous knowledge and community-based observations. These contributions to Arctic science are critical for understanding how the region’s Indigenous peoples and communities observe, understand, and respond to rapid environmental and social changes across their territorial landscapes that have been occupied for millennia. This collaborative award supports ELOKA’s work with partners in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, northern Europe, and Russia to ensure that information from community-based research and observing is protected and preserved while also made discoverable, accessible, and useful for Arctic residents, researchers, managers, and policy makers. This project will build data management capacity at the community level, develop digital tools to store and share data and knowledge, and identify ways to better evaluate the use of data and knowledge to address management and decision-making needs, for example, related to climate adaptation and community planning, environmental and wildlife management, and cultural and place-based education. ELOKA’s collaborative project activities will contribute to improved Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training, education, and leadership opportunities for Indigenous peoples, an underrepresented minority in STEM.

In its fifth phase, ELOKA will collaborate with researchers and Arctic Indigenous communities to develop a community data management (CDM) system focused on enhancing the usefulness of community-based research and observing while supporting data sovereignty. As the first of four goals, ELOKA will co-develop a framework to assess the use and usefulness of CDM digital data infrastructures by convening two thematic working groups focused on place names and long-term observing. Working group members will co-develop use cases to document, examine and explore enhancements for how data management tools are used by communities and other end users. These will be synthesized to create a framework for developing useful and usable CDM applications. Second, this project will co-develop tools, including enhanced and new digital applications, to make community data more usable and useful for natural resource management, land use planning, teaching and curriculum development, language and cultural preservation, and long-term observing of Arctic change. Third, ELOKA will build capacity for data stewardship and Indigenous data sovereignty by providing trainings in partner communities, offering mini workshops at Arctic science meetings and conferences, and extending the use of ELOKA-developed atlases and databases in community institutions, including schools, wildlife management and hunter/harvester organizations, and community and regional planning offices. Fourth, this project will co-develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework to guide project assessment and learning. ELOKA will contribute to understanding and advancing knowledge co-production through collaborative sharing of data and information that engages both Indigenous and scientific knowledge. An Indigenous co-production of knowledge leadership team will oversee the development of a research protocol, implementation of the project, and dissemination of results. ELOKA research will advance practices for community-driven and user-informed design of data management systems across the Arctic, with the potential to contribute to Arctic observing networks and to significantly improve prediction, planning and adaptation in the face of accelerating social and environmental change.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of Polar Programs (OPP)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Roberto Delgado
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Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council
United States
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