Long-term observations are an inherent process in our communities 31 March 2020Arctic peoplesInuit Circumpolar Council Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough is the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) and she is one of the keynote speakers of the 2020 Arctic Observing Summit – a conference that has been moved entirely to the digital realm due to the covid-19 outbreak. Dr. Dorough’s address thus has been prerecorded for attendees participating from across the Arctic and beyond. However, as she states in her opening: While she understands the need of holding the gathering in a virtual fashion, she also has to acknowledge that it is a format that creates extraordinary barriers for Inuit to participate directly. The current pandemic demonstrates the lack of infrastructures in many Arctic communities – in addition to lack of potable water, sewer systems, and sufficient housing, a stable bandwidth to attend virtual conferences is one of those lacks. We spoke to Dr. Dorough about the need of multiple observations in the Arctic, the value of co-production of knowledge and the possibilities for concrete actions that observations offer. Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough at the Arctic Environment Ministers' Meeting 11-12 October, Rovaniemi, FinlandThe title of your presentation at the Arctic Observing Summit 2020 is “The interrelated world of Inuit” – could you tell us, what observation in an interrelated world looks like? When I was thinking about a title for my presentation, I borrowed some of the terms scientists use when they are writing their project proposals for the funding agencies like the National Science Foundation, such as ‘long-term observation of the Arctic system’. Clearly, Inuit have conducted long-term observations in the Arctic. So, I borrowed some of the vocabulary to point out the Inuit perspective: Long-term observations of the Arctic system are an inherent process in our communities, they have been and especially now, are a necessity to adapt to our changing homelands and ecosystems. The term interrelated refers to a holistic view of the whole ecosystem, which is the nature of our worldview as Inuit and I believe for Indigenous peoples around the globe. The longevity of Inuit knowledge and observations has resulted in extraordinary understanding of Arctic ecosystems, which are embedded in our language and way of life. In your keynote, you state Indigenous knowledge and science are different yet complementary systems and sources of knowledge. Bringing them together can be enriching and generate new knowledge. How can these systems be brought together? There are many ways Indigenous knowledge and Western science can be brought together, and in my keynote I am urging scientists to think more creatively about future observations. For example: We have seen an increase in vessel traffic because of melting sea ice, and those who want to make related observations about their impact should reach out to our coastal communities. Scientists should use Inuit observations, engage with people that see the changes every day and that have a knowledge base that reaches back for generations to inform their results. This knowledge should build the foundation and inform where and how future observations should take place. Scientists could save a lot of time if they reached out early on to hunters and harvesters and engaged them on equal terms. What benefit could this collaboration have for Inuit communities? The knowledge held by our people combined with scientific data and research can bolster change. The co-production of knowledge can have beneficial effects on our efforts to pursue increased management of the resources that we rely upon. Further, it could determine priorities for future observation and monitoring programs, and give us the opportunity to influence policies on a national and international level.