Collaborative Research: Linking Maps, Manuscripts, and Place Names Data to Improve Environmental Knowledge in Alaska

NSF logoThis project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Arctic Social Sciences


Peter Pulsifer (PI, University of Colorado), Gary Holton, (PI University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Project Summary

This collaborative project brings together researchers with expertise in Alaska Native linguistics and geography (Holton) and in web-based mapping and visualization applications for traditional knowledge (Pulsifer) in order to compile a geographic database linking place name data found on historic Alaskan maps, The project builds on the existing, proven infrastructure of the Exchange for Local Observations of and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) project to create a sustainable platform accessible to both current and future researchers and community members, manuscripts, and within oral histories and printed materials.
Linking place names with maps and manuscripts allows for a greater time depth in place name research, since the archival record for Alaska Native languages stretches back some three centuries. Rather than viewing place names as lists of disassociated points, the integrative approach adopted here reveals connections between configurations of named places and socio-ecological dimensions of landscape, thus providing insights into biological and cultural diversity, adaptation and resilience, and cultural values and ecosystem services within the context of environmental change.