Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK)

Researchers working in the Arctic have long depended on local guides to navigate the environment successfully and safely. The Iñupiat people of Alaska’s northernmost region still engage in traditional activities of their ancestors, informed by thousands of years of observation and practice for surviving in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.

UIC Science provides today’s researchers with that same logistical and culturally informed guidance with a dedicated Arctic Indigenous Traditional Ecologic Knowledge (ITEK) Specialist on staff.  Researchers are encouraged to incorporate ITEK throughout their projects, from the beginning stages to completion. 

In fact, there’s new commitment at the federal level to recognize and include ITEK in federal research, policy, and decision-making. A November 2022 guidance document for federal departments and agencies outlines ways to do so. The federal government has advised agencies to engage with local experts at all stages of a Request for Proposal to ensure that Indigenous Knowledge is valued on par with other forms of evidence and methods of inquiry. It encourages agencies to offer funding for co-production of knowledge, too.

Martin Edwardsen, Arctic ITEK Specialist

Martin Edwardsen, UIC Science Arctic ITEK Specialist

Martin Edwardsen is the UIC Science Arctic ITEK Specialist. He has extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna, seasonal cycles and weather patterns of the region. Martin's expertise in traditional practices includes hunting, fishing, gathering, traditional technologies, and materials used for clothing, shelter, and transportation.

In addition to his extensive ecological knowledge, Martin is a member of a highly respected and successful whaling crew and an active member of the North Slope volunteer search and rescue. He also represents the Arctic Region as a member of the North Pacific Research Advisory Panel.

Learn more

Researchers are encouraged to get in touch with Martin for: 

  • ITEK input on grant proposals
  • Coordination with community members for community-based observation networks
  • ITEK input during the project planning phase
  • ITEK input during a stay in Utqiaġvik


Contact Us - UIC Science Arctic ITEK Support
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