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Voices from the Frontlines of Changing Bering Sea, Version 1

The Bering Sea is home to over 70 Indigenous communities of the Iñupiat, Central Yup’ik, Cup’ik, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Unangan, and Chukchi Peoples. In recent years, the Bering Sea has experienced unprecedented declines in sea ice, threatening community food security, infrastructure, and travel. In winters 2018 and 2019, sea ice coverage was by far the lowest observed in at least the last 160 years. Such loss of ice, together with increasing air temperatures and recent winter storm activity, has shifted much focus to the region with renewed questions regarding how local communities and ecosystems are affected. In 2019, scientists from the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) partnered with the Bering Sea Elders Group (BSEG) to create opportunities for Elders to communicate their experiences and knowledge regarding rapid environmental change across their region. In September 2019, ten Elders from eight communities came together for a two-day round-table gathering in Nome, Alaska to share their perspectives, observations, and stories about what sea ice loss means to their villages, the resources they depend on, and their collective future as Arctic Indigenous Peoples.

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