Protecting Our ways of Life

As the First Peoples of these lands, for centuries we have shared and continue to share land and water with a vast range of relatives, including bears, deer, sheep, moose, caribou, wolves, whales, fish, seals, and many other types of animal relatives. We are also blessed with plant medicines such as berries, cedar, roots, and other wild trees and plants essential to our health and livelihood.

The traditional economy of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples is based on subsistence activities that require special skills and a complex understanding of the local environments that enable people to live directly from and with the land. These skills, passed down from generation to generation, enabled people and their environments to live in symbiotic relationships with one another. The traditional subsistence economy is predicated on a reverence for cultural values and knowledge that Elders and culture bearers have passed down to younger generations, and which this stewardship continues to this day.

Subsistence livelihoods also involve cultural values and attitudes: mutual respect, sharing, resourcefulness, and an understanding that is both conscious and spiritual—the intricate relationships that link humans, animals, and the environment. Unlike the settler practices, in which there is a recognized hierarchy of beings, with human beings on top, the Indigenous worldview reveres all life equally, in coexistence and balance.

Protecting Our Lands and Waters Campaign

Our ancestral connection to the land and waters uplifts us, provides for us and all our languages and cultures. Our foundation is set by taking care of the lands and waters that provide for our families, and to ensure that future generations can continue to hunt, fish and gather on our lands.   At the core of NPA is our work on protecting our ways of life, with that in our hearts and minds  we have created an intentional educational focused land and water protection campaign focused on working in partnership with communities, Indigenous groups and Tribes across the state to highlight the importance of the land and water protection work already underway, and create connections between our communities to uplift and support each others region.  The NPA team has been hard at work connecting and meeting with people across the state to learn more about their land and water protection work. We need to know and understand the threats that are happening to our lands, waters and communities so we can educate on the threats, the impacts high scale development projects will have on the region, and work together to put a stop to projects that will harm our lands, waters and ways of life. More importantly, we are doing this work to stand up for our people and ways of life. 

Amplifying Voices & Getting Involved

There are many decisions that are being made about our hunting, fishing and gathering without Indigenous people at the table, and decision makers that do not care about protecting the livelihoods of the people living on our ancestral homelands. We are facing large scale resource development, to trophy hunters and the policy makers who give into the louder, more profitable voices they are hearing from. It is up to Indigenous people, Tribes and organizations to educate, amplify, and get involved to stop this destructive system that will otherwise leave our voices behind. This project leads us to policy ideas and actions that can be taken to numerous decision makers on the Board of Fish and Board of Game, and to state and federal legislators. We work to amplify issues and voices at the Federal subsistence board, write to our congressional and state leaders, sharing out crucial information on Board of Fish and Board of Game game actions, including calls to action. Additionally, the NPA staff have been collecting and sharing resources about how to get involved and how to navigate the bureaucratic federal and state system that is intentionally built to keep us out.

Uplifting & Support Leaders

Our communities are full of amazing leaders who are already taking charge in their local communities and their homes. NPA wants to help by providing information and support to those who are looking for additional leadership opportunities and for increasing the power of their voice. We do this through constructing a leadership network to connect individuals, build up knowledge on the systems and support leaders getting into decision making bodies. We know from our elders and stories that everything is connected, and we have found that to be true in many aspects in land and water protection: our issue areas overlap; so will our solutions. In this way, we will connect community experts and individuals to combine our knowledge base and create a space for collaboration that will foster stronger leadership among our peoples. Through it all, we aim to share, listen, and uplift our values and commit to land and water protection in a good way. For an incredible resource, check out Advance Native Political Leadership.
We are no longer allowing a history of colonization to keep us separate from ourselves.
Andrea Akall’eq Burgess
Akall'eq Andrea Burgess
Yup'ik, NPA President