A Bering Strait Indigenous Framework for Resource Management: Respectful Seal and Walrus Hunting

Marte Spangen, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Tiina Äikäs, Lily Gadamus and Julie Raymond-Yakoubian


Western resource management is often contentious in northern indigenous communities, as it is can be poorly matched with local resource-use traditions. Expert seal and walrus hunters in the Bering Strait region of Alaska requested that Kawerak, Inc., a local tribal consortium, document seal and walrus hunting through the lens of the locally preferred framework of respect. We conducted semistructured interviews and focus groups with 84 expert elders and hunters regarding seal and walrus hunting and use. Local respectful hunting and use practices focused on appropriate relationships between humans and between humans and animals; traditional values; knowledge of seals, walruses, and environmental conditions; hunting and processing skills; and avoiding pollution. Experts explained this system was best transmitted through hands-on activities that build youth skills, values, and relationships with elders and adults. The respect framework and positive system of transmission through education differs markedly from Western resource management frameworks based on regulation and enforcement.

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.