Indigenous Peoples’ Traditional Knowledge in the Arctic Council


The Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (IPS) supports the work of six international Indigenous organizations with Permanent Participant status in the Arctic Council — the world’s leading intergovernmental forum for international cooperation on Arctic issues. The Permanent Participant category was established in the Arctic Council’s founding document to provide for Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ “full consultation and involvement in the Arctic Council.” Permanent Participants are majority Indigenous organizations that represent one Indigenous People in multiple Arctic states or multiple Indigenous Peoples in one Arctic state.

Traditional knowledge is one of the Permanent Participants’ unique contributions to the Arctic Council. This final report includes three research documents on traditional knowledge in the Arctic Council written in cooperation with IPS during the Hart Fellowship.

  1. INTERACT Work Package 9, Chapter: Defining Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge in the context of the Arctic Council
    The deliverable for INTERACT Work Package 9 is a guidebook on traditional knowledge for research station managers across the circumpolar Arctic. The goal of the guidebook is to encourage respect for traditional knowledge among scientific researchers, as well as better interaction between research stations and surrounding Indigenous communities. The Association of World Reindeer Herders requested that I write a short chapter defining traditional knowledge due to my experience with the topic in the Arctic Council. It is still a draft without full citations.
  2. Compilation of traditional knowledge, local knowledge, and indigenous knowledge terminology in the Arctic Council and external international authorities – Backgrounder and Annex
    These documents compile terminology the Arctic Council used to refer to traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge and local knowledge during the past 22 years in 1) Ministerial declarations, legally binding agreements, and other key documents from the Arctic Council, and 2) agreements and reports from external international authorities. The annex provides methods, full quotes, and greater detail about the mandate for this backgrounder.
    Senior Arctic Officials requested this document in preparation for a discussion about changing the Arctic Council’s official terminology from “traditional and local knowledge” to “indigenous knowledge” and “local knowledge” as proposed by Inuit Circumpolar Council. The Senior Arctic Officials eventually decided to change the terminology to “traditional knowledge and local knowledge.”
  3. Summary of Arctic Council reports on traditional knowledge
    One of IPS’s core functions is to “gather and disseminate information on different forms of knowledge,” including traditional knowledge. This Excel sheet is a living document in the IPS Sharepoint site allowing Permanent Participants and IPS staff to keep track of relevant Arctic Council publications.