Kawerak Inc. is pleased to announce receipt of a multi-year grant award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The charitable purpose of this grant is to protect the Bering Strait Region’s coastal and marine ecosystems and communities from the increasing impacts of climate change and industrial activities. Through the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Bering Strait region’s tribes will be able to continue and enhance advocacy efforts in the wake of our changing climate mainly through Kawerak’s Marine and Social Science Programs.

Kawerak’s Marine Program works to ensure the Bering Strait Region has a voice at the policy-making table; the felt threats of climate change, increased vessel traffic and risks to subsistence lifestyle loom overhead. Oiled wildlife, foreign debris, large whale entanglements, harmful algal blooms and pollutant discharges are just a few of the already present effects. In response to these frightening changes, Kawerak hosted a workshop in 2016 with Bering Strait region community leaders. They developed a vision to guide policy and community action going forward; “Guided by Yupik and Inupiaq values and traditions, we will continue to build sustainable capacity to uphold our spiritual and cultural traditions and relationships, by inspiring healthy choices, and protecting our natural resources to ensure food security for our future generations. We proactively adapt to climate and other changes experienced by our people.” With Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding, Kawerak’s Marine Program will continue to raise the voices of regional leaders to inform its advocacy efforts and affect management of the Northern Bering Sea.

Kawerak’s Social Science Program collaborates with our member Tribes to document Traditional Knowledge and Tribal perspectives, and to apply that information to policy, management and governance contexts. Through the Moore Foundation award, the Program will continue to make available and apply Bering Strait region Traditional Knowledge in the various contexts surrounding issues of vessel traffic, fisheries, research, governance of the northern Bering Sea, and advocate and promote the recognition of and continued thriving of Tribal values, knowledge and practices.

Additionally, the Foundation’s award will allow Kawerak Inc to establish a Bering Sea Tribal Commission to continue setting regional priorities, advancing ecosystem protections, and establishing frameworks for Tribal engagement and leadership for the Northern Bering Sea at state, national and international levels. It will also work toward establishing internationally recognized Areas to Be Avoided (ATBA) in prime areas around Diomede Islands, banning the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and regulating discharge, maintaining exclusion of the Hope, Norton, St. Matthew-Hall and Navarin Basins for consideration in oil and gas leasing, and informing a Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) that recognizes and incorporates Tribal values and Traditional Knowledge at the same level as western science.

We are grateful for the support to continue this important work to protect our land, sea and future generations as we have done since time immemorial.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit Moore.org and follow @MooreFound.

About Kawerak Inc: Kawerak’s mission is to advance the capacity of our people and tribes for the benefit of the region. Kawerak is an Alaska Native regional nonprofit tribal consortium that provides over 40 different programs to the Inupiaq, St. Lawrence Island Yupik and Yupik people who reside in 16 communities of western Alaska and represents the 20 federally recognized tribes in the Bering Strait Region. www.kawerak.org