The Power of Multiple Perspectives: Behind the Scenes of the Siku–Inuit–Hila Project

  • Henry P. HuntingtonEmail author
  • Shari Gearheard
  • Lene Kielsen Holm


The Siku–Inuit–Hila (Sea ice–people–weather) project presents a new approach for collaborative research in the Arctic that links Inuit and scientific knowledge. For perhaps the first time, Inuit have undertaken comparative environmental research in a formal structure: not only comparative across Inuit knowledge and science but also comparative across time and place. By involving local research team members in community knowledge exchanges, we blurred the distinctions between “researchers” and “participants,” giving each team member a variety of roles during the project, including host, visitor, teacher, and student. The exchanges were complemented by quantitative sea ice measurements taken from specially designed local monitoring stations and information gathered during regular sea ice expert group meetings held in each community. Our experiences illustrate that this approach to collaborative research can yield new insights into sea ice processes, changes, and impacts at the local and regional scales.


Sea ice Inuit Traditional knowledge Collaborative research Research methods Nunavut Alaska Greenland 



Siku–Inuit–Hila would not have been possible without the help and support of many people in the communities of Barrow, Clyde River, and Qaanaaq. There are too many people and organizations to name here, but to all of you – quyanaqpak, qujannamiik, qujanaq!! Joe Leavitt, Joelie Sanguya, and Toku Oshima, our team leaders in each of the communities, deserve very special thanks. The project would not be possible without generous funding and encouragement from the U.S. National Science Foundation (HSD 0624344), Health Canada’s Climate Change and Health Adaptation in the North Program, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, and the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Greenland. We are grateful to our SIKU colleagues, Igor Krupnik and Gita Laidler, for many valuable comments to the first draft of this chapter.


  1. Amundsen, R. 1908. The Northwest Passage. London: Archibald Constable, 2 vols.Google Scholar
  2. Berkes, F. 2002. Epilogue: Making sense of arctic environmental change? In The Earth is Faster Now. I. Krupnik and D. Jolly, (eds.), Fairbanks, AK: Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, pp. 335–349.Google Scholar
  3. Brewster, K. 1997. Native contributions to arctic science at Barrow, Alaska. Arctic 50(3): 277–288.Google Scholar
  4. Gearheard, S., Matumeak, W., Angutikjuaq, I., Maslanik, J., Huntington, H.P., Leavitt, J., Matumeak Kagak, D., Tigullaraq, G., and Barry, R.G. 2006. “It’s not that simple”: A collaborative comparison of sea ice environments, their uses, observed changes, and adaptations in Barrow, Alaska, USA, and Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada. Ambio 35(4): 203–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Huntington, H.P., Callaghan, T., Fox, S., and Krupnik, I. 2004 Matching traditional and scientific observations to detect environmental change: A discussion on Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. Ambio 33(7): 20–25.Google Scholar
  6. Huntington, H.P., Gearheard, S., Druckenmiller, M., and Mahoney, A. 2009. Community-based observation programs and indigenous and local sea ice knowledge. In Handbook on Field Techniques in Sea Ice Research (A Sea Ice System Services Approach). H. Eicken, R. Gradinger, M. Salganek, K. Shirasawa, D. Perovich, and M. Leppäranta (ed.), Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press. pp. 345–364.Google Scholar
  7. Irving, L. 1976. Simon Paneak. Arctic 29(1): 58–59.Google Scholar
  8. Mahoney, A. and Gearheard, S. 2008. Handbook for Community-Based Sea Ice Monitoring. NSIDC special report 14. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
  9. Mahoney, A., Gearheard, S., Oshima, T., and Qillaq, T. 2009. Ice thickness measurements from a community-based observing network. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society March 90(3): 370–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. National Research Council. 2006. Toward an Integrated Arctic Observing Network. Washington: The National Academies Press, 115 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Oozeva, C., Noongwook, C., Noongwook, G., Alowa, C., and Krupnik., I. 2004. Watching Ice and Weather Our Way. Washington: Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution, 280 pp.Google Scholar
  12. Pearce, T.D. and 19 others. 2009. Community collaboration and climate change research in the Canadian Arctic. Polar Research 28: 10–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Salenave, J. 1994. Giving traditional ecological knowledge its rightful place in environmental impact assessment. Northern Perspectives 22: 16–19.Google Scholar
  14. Simpson, J. 1855. Observations on the western Esquimaux and the country they inhabit. Reprinted in The Journal of Rochefort Maguire 1852–1854. J. Bockstoce (ed.), 1988. London: Hakluyt Society, pp. 501–550.Google Scholar
  15. Wolfe, B., Armitage, D., Wesche, S., Brock, B., Sokal, M., Clogg-Write, K., Mongeon, C., Adam, M., Hall, R., and Edwards, T. 2007. From isotopes to TK interviews: Towards interdisciplinary research in fort resolution and the Slave River Delta, Northwest Territories. Arctic 60(1): 75–87.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry P. Huntington
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shari Gearheard
    • 2
  • Lene Kielsen Holm
    • 3
  1. 1.Pew Environment GroupEagle RiverUSA
  2. 2.National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Inuit Circumpolar CouncilNuukGreenland

Personalised recommendations