Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: March 24th, 2021

Free event to be offered virtually

March 26, 2021

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will host a free lecture free lecture next Tuesday, March 30, on the effects that sea otters and people have on shellfish beds in rural Southeast Alaska communities.

The lecture, Addressing Complex Resource Conflicts: People, Sea Otters and Shellfish in Southeast Alaska, will be given by Sonia Natalie Ibarra.

Complex resource issues that incorporate scientific approaches often require thinking outside of disciplinary boxes. It challenges our notions of what is useful data, what voices or data are included and which voices and data are left out, wrote Ibarra.

In Southeast Alaska, the reintroduction and expansion of sea otter populations have triggered cascading effects with profound impacts on local food security—particularly the harvest of customary and traditional subsistence foods in rural coastal communities. 

For Ibarra’s latest research study, local and Indigenous knowledge are combined with ecological studies to investigate how sea otters and people impact local shellfish beds in rural communities. The study also explores community management recommendations that may facilitate environmental and community sustainability.

“Prior to conducting our work, we consulted with tribal councils, tribal leaders, community members and Elders with the implicit purpose to elicit feedback on all aspects of research,” wrote Ibarra.

“By engaging communities throughout the entire research, we created a strategic road map that helped identify knowledge that is sensitive or inaccessible and fostered opportunities for constructive community engagement and community awareness of the project, with hopes of creating an equitable platform in which researchers and community members are drivers of genuine collaborative research,” wrote Ibarra.

The presentation, scheduled for Tuesday, March 30, is part of a lecture series focusing on subsistence in Alaska Native communities and factors that impact traditional subsistence practices.

All lectures will be livestreamed at 12 pm Alaska time on SHI’s YouTube channel, and available for viewing on YouTube any time after the livestream (no account required).

This program is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program. 

About the Lecturer

Sonia Ibarra obtained her B.S. in marine biology at Humboldt State University in 2008. After graduating, she worked as a scientific diver and field researcher for five years in the Philippines, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Belize and the southern California Channel Islands. Over the last eight years, she has worked closely with Tlingit and Haida rural communities in Southeast Alaska during her doctorate work focused on sea otters, food security and weaving together Indigenous and Western knowledge systems. She also works to support Indigenous youth in navigating higher education while honoring their identity.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

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