RETURNING TO BALANCE: Climate Change and a Vision for Alaska

Last summer we saw record heat in Alaska. Wildfires scorched our homelands. This year, many of our tribal communities experienced unprecedented flooding and families are struggling to put fish away for the winter. These are the realities that we are currently living in. 

Our seasons are interconnected, and we cannot afford another season without action on Climate Justice. As caretakers of the lands and waters, we need to allow our homelands to heal and return to balance. Returning to balance means uplifting Indigenous knowledge and worldviews through building localized solutions, making reparations with Indigenous peoples and communities, and action-forward planning for the next 10,000 years.

This video was done in partnership between Native Peoples Action, The Alaska Center, Native Movement, Alaska Venture Fund and SalmonState. Video production by Chris Landry.


We are reaching out to you - Alaskans - to share your story with us to elevate real-life experiences of climate change. 

Everyone has a climate story to tell. From flooding and erosion of our riverbanks, changing fish camp stories, wildfires, unfamiliar migration patterns, rapid change in hunting areas to growing our own food sources. Alaska is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the world and our action is needed now. Leave your story in NPA's climate story bank and together, let's push Alaska leadership to take bold action on Climate Justice. Your stories will be shared with decision makers so they are able to hear directly from you. Quyana, Taikuu, Gunalchéesh, Háw'aa, Mahsí' choo, Qagaasakung, Thank You.


Native Peoples Action strives to provide Alaska Native communities and our traditional values with a voice at all levels of policy making. Our mission to protect our traditional ways of life and homelands is in direct threat because of the climate state of emergency. Our Indigenous people have upheld a natural stewardship with our homelands that goes back to creation, since time immemorial.

Native Peoples Action will always follow the leadership and the wishes of our communities, Tribal citizens and Tribal leaders and will not substitute our view for their views that impact their homelands directly. Through this lense, we grow our position(s) on various projects, by listening and observing what direction our communities desire for their future(s).

Native Peoples Action has the ability to mobilize our people, to ensure that our people have a seat at these tables where decisions are happening and to help shape what our own future looks like on our own homelands. With that said, we will always take the guidance from our communities and be a partner in their work to protect their lands and people. This work is led with love for our people, our lands and waters. 


With the ongoing threats of climate change and the ways that our world is rapidly changing, the urgency to work towards a more sustainable economy become more evident everyday. We collaborate with our partners to embrace and build a movement through the Just Transition framework. Just Transition is a unifying and vision-led set of principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This framework is structured to create a fair shift in our economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable and just for all Alaskans.

Just Transition means a fair and equitable shift to a Regenerative Economy — an economy that is in alignment with what the earth can regenerate and that ensured equity, dignity and justice for all.


We held the first Just Transition Summit in January 2020 in Fairbanks on the lower Tanana Dene peoples land. This summit, named Kohtr’elneyh means “We Remember” in the language of the lower Tanana Dene peoples, the Benhti Kanaga’ language. We shared our collective ideas and held each other up as we work to move forward, informed by Indigenous knowledge, to shape our current communities and strive for greater balance. By acknowledging the original stewards of these lands, Alaska Native peoples, we also uplift a knowledge system that has deep history and relationship to the lands we currently all call home. The foundation of this summit strives to not only create a “new” path forward but also to remember a knowledge system that has lived in harmony on these lands for thousands of years. For us a Just Transition means uplifting Indigenous place-based knowledge systems while we shape regenerative economies, steward lands and waters, and build more just and equitable communities for all.  

Alaska is experiencing an unparalleled moment of systemic political, economic, and ecological crisis –one that requires us as Alaskans to rethink how we balance our current and future needs. The economic system that has sustained Alaska for over 40 years is unraveling. Since the 1970s, an oil-based economy has dictated the speed and sectors of business growth. Over this time our state government has implemented a tax structure that furthers dependence on one main revenue stream — oil revenues. Over the past few years we have experienced the harm caused by our state’s economic dependency.

This work has continued since the initial summit in Fairbanks and now with the recent threats of Covid-19 and our social distancing orders, we have taken the conversation into an online platform. The Just Transition Webinar series officially kicked off on April 22, 2020. This has allowed us to have a further reach and to bring in more people to the idea and movement of a Just Transition, and to get people across the state to start thinking critically about what that looks like for Alaska. You can learn more about the Just Transition in Alaska here

As laid out in the Just Transition framework, we understand that this work must be done from a place of love, respect, appreciate and gratitude. Our JT framework is a representation of our values and what it means to be the original stewards of this land, and how valuable this role will continue to be for Alaska in the future. We do this work through the same principles of respect and honor, learned from our traditional knowledge system. Our ancestral connection to the lands and waters uplifts us and all of our languages and cultures! By having this foundation, we are able to work on these important issues from around the state, to help us all move towards a Just Transition.