The Iñuit Circumpolar Council - Alaska (ICC-AK) releases report on Iñuit food security

Content provided by ICC-Alaska for this publication.

Drastic changes are occurring in the Arctic and Iñuit are on the forefront of these changes. In recent years food security has increasingly become a topic of conversation and is gaining more attention.

But what does food security mean to those that call the Arctic home?  Through this Alaska Iñuit (Iñupiaq, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Central Yup’ik and Cup’ik) led project, the report illuminates the meaning of Alaska Iñuit food security and lay out an assessment process. 

In the report states that Iñuit food security is more than calories, more than nutrients, as explained in the Executive Summary:  “We are speaking about the entire Arctic ecosystem and the relationships between all components within; we are talking about how our language teaches us when, where and how to obtain, process, store and consume food; we are talking about the importance of dancing and pot lucks to share foods and how our economic system is tied to this; we are talking about our rights to govern how we obtain, process, store and consume food; about our Indigenous Knowledge and how it will aid in illuminating these changes that are occurring. We are talking about what food security means to us, to our people, to our environment and how we see this environment; we are talking about our culture.”

The report is the product of 146 contributing Iñuit authors, a 12-member advisory committee, ICC-AK and their membership organizations. A summary and recommendations report was created for a quick glimpse at what food security means to Alaska Iñuit, what it means to apply a food security lens to assessments, and recommendations for strengthening food security.

For a deeper understanding and more in-depth discussion, a technical report was created. Both reports contain recommendations, key barriers, the food security conceptual framework, and drivers of food security and insecurity. The technical report also lays out a food security assessment process.

“To look at environmental health through an Iñuit food security lens requires one to undergo a paradigm shift," said James Stotts, ICC-AK president. "One must be willing to attempt to understand the Iñuit culture [and] to know what Iñuit mean when they talk about food security.”

ICC-AK hopes that the report will be of use to a broad spectrum of people. Villages may use the report to aid in communicating with those from outside their communities. Decision-makers, academics, environmentalists, policy-makers and industry may use the reports as a tool to enhance their understanding of the Arctic.
The report is accessible on the ICC-Alaska website www.iccalaska.org.