I am fortunate to have worked in the Gwich’in community of Vashraii K’oo or Arctic Village during the summer of 2022 on a research project funded by NSF. I worked with University of Alaska Fairbanks students and researchers, along with colleagues from Haverford College and the University of Arizona to talk with Elders about climate change in their community. I directed the students on video documentation methods, and video fieldwork while directing the documentary film project.
Decolonizing Fieldwork: Using Videography as a Method to Empower Alaska Native Youth and Promote Inter-Generational Dialogues on Climate Change in the Arctic
This presentation will be led by an Indigenous research team that utilizes videography as a research method to document Indigenous knowledge on climate change impacts in two regions of rural Alaska. Participating undergraduate students will feature a short video and share their journey to decolonizing fieldwork in partnership with two federally recognized tribes. Discussion topics will include: the importance of relationality in research, the value of engaging Indigenous youth and elders in inter-generational dialogues around climate change and sustainability, and the opportunity to learn and use digital technology as a tool to perpetuate the transmission of Indigenous knowledge by and for tribal communities. Student panelists will share their perspectives as Indigenous students learning to interact and engage with local communities in tribally-led research efforts. By intentionally putting Alaska Native values into practice and elevating relationality into the research framework at every opportunity, the students actively sought to decolonize the fieldwork experience. One innovative aspect of this work is its focus on challenging Western research norms regarding the collection, management and ownership of data. Students will share how research agreements and practices were designed specifically to support tribal goals and self-determination. This project is an inspiring example of empowering young, tribal citizens to learn videography and put their vision and new skills to use in service of tribal communities.