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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
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Alaska Native Science Commission

This site provides background information on the role and activities of the Alaska Native Science Commission as it relates to science research policies and practices impacting Alaska Native people. Anyone wishing to contribute to this site is encouraged to contact the coordinator of the Alaska Native Knowledge Network at (907) 474-1902, or send an email message to

The Alaska Native Science Commission's Alaska Traditional Knowledge and Native Foods Database is available online at:

Alaska Native Science Commission:

Partnerships in Science & Research


The Arctic Contamination Conference held in Anchorage, Alaska in May of 1993, was the genesis of the Alaska Native Science Commission (ANSC). The Conference opened with a keynote address by Senator Frank Murkowski speaking on the topic, "The Environmental Legacy of the Cold War". After several days of hearing "war" stories, like Project Chariot and iodine experimenting on Natives, the Native community knew it was time to continue the battle on a new front. A position paper was prepared which stated the desire of the Native community to become actively involved in scientific research, to become aware and informed of science investigating Native lives and environment, and to assure that when science is performed in Alaska it is with the knowledge, cooperation and understanding of the Native community.

In October 1993, The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Annual Convention, passed a unanimous resolution to support the creation of an Alaska Native Science Commission. During 1994, a series of workshops were held with Native community leaders and elders, and Arctic scientists and researchers to discuss the formation and structure of the ANSC. Funding was received from the National Science Foundation to assist in establishing the ANSC. These funds will facilitate the growth of the ANSC into an independent body which will provide the primary link between the scientific community and the Alaska Native community.


The mission of the ANSC is to endorse and support scientific research that enhances and perpetuates Alaska Native cultures, and ensures the protection of indigenous cultures and intellectual property. This mission statement was drafted as a result of the 1994 workshop series and adopted by the participating Native community leaders, elders, Arctic scientists and researchers.


The goals of the Alaska Native Science Commission are to:

  • Facilitate the inclusion of local and traditional knowledge into research and science.
  • Participate in and influence priorities for research.
  • Seek participation of Alaska Natives at all levels of science.
  • Provide a mechanism for community feedback on results and other scientific activities.
  • Promote science to Native youth.
  • Encourage Native people to enter scientific disciplines.
  • Ensure that Native people share in economic benefits derived from their intellectual property.


Targeted areas of concern identified by the Native community include:

  1. Environmental health and the causes of disease that are specific to Alaska Natives, especially the types of cancers that are killing the young and non-substance abusers.
  2. Elements and conditions that contribute to the survival of Native cultures and societies, and identification of major barriers to cultural survival.
  3. Partnerships with agencies and researchers who have supported community involvement in research and work well with Native communities.
  4. Active community involvement in science and research which:
    • Informs communities of their rights regarding research done on their environment or people.
    • Establishes community research standards and protocols.
    • Establishes standard research reviews to address issues of local concern and cultural values.
    • Assures that scientists work with communities on the direction and design of research.
    • Channels communication of research results in a practical manner back to the communities which are most impacted.
    • Helps scientists work directly with students in the classroom and at the research site to foster interest and involvement.
    • Promotes hire of local people to assist with research.
    • Prepares locally held knowledge of community resources.
    • Promotes student learning through elders.
    • Encourages and supports students who are interested in science to become actively involved in the research of their people and homelands.
    • Establishes local standards for the utilization of traditional knowledge with consideration of intellectual property rights.

These issues were identified as priority because they represent the major causes for concern and set the direction we can take as a Native community to address them.

Board of Commissioners

The ANSC has solicited nominations from the Native community to serve on the Board of Commissioners to oversee the work of the Commission. Seven Alaska Native Commissioners will be selected to represent the following groups:

  1. Alaska Native Education
  2. Alaska Native Health
  3. Arctic Research Commission - Native member
  4. Elder
  5. Natural Resource Manager
  6. Scientist
  7. Teacher

Ex- officio members of the Commission include:

  • Alaska State Science Advisor
  • Arctic Research Commission Executive Director
  • Arctic Research Consortium of the United States President
  • College Science Student

Advisory Boards and special Task Forces will also be used to assist the Commission.


A Partnership Approach:

The ANSC was created to bring together research and science in partnership with the Native community. The ANSC serves as a clearinghouse for proposed research, an information base for on-going and past research, and an archives for significant research involving the Native community. We provide information, referral and networking services for researchers seeking active partners in the Native community. We are the bridge to bring these communities together. It is time for us to work together - for better communities, for sensitivity to each others concerns, and in the long run - for better science.

For further information on the Alaska Native Science Commission, please contact:

Alaska Native Science Commission
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508

Tel: 907-786-7704
Fax: 907-786-7739
Email: ayansc@


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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Last modified February 25, 2011