TEA Banner
TEA Navbar

22 April, 2003

What is TEK?

Today in Kotzebue
Considering that we have to go 30 miles across the sound on snow machines on Thursday, it is getting a little warm and mushy for our taste. We would like to see a good solid freeze.

What science is happening?
Terry Reynolds, a graduate student on our team living in Kotzebue, and Martha Whiting, a native Inupiaq woman, who has spent her life in Kotzebue talked on our conference call today. We discussed Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), that is knowledge gathered by native people that has helped them survive and thrive in a very inhospitable land for thousands of years. Martha talked about native medicines, changes in the village and differences in the animal populations that she has noticed in her life. She was also able to talk about the subsistence lifestyle* that the Inupiaq people lead.

Terry was able to talk about the scientific value of traditional knowledge and methods of interviewing and obtaining TEK data.
Classroom Connections:
Why do you think that traditional knowledge is important?
What is traditional knowledge based on?
What source in your community do you have for traditional knowledge?
What do you think you could learn?

One of the things I requested, when I asked for an assignment, was to work with other cultures. This has been fascinating and very rewarding. Lisa and I went to Alex and Martha Whitings’ house. I was able to see the room where Alex keeps all the furs he has hunted. His family eats the meat, shares with elders, uses the skins in crafts and trades them. Inupiaq people are allowed to hunt to feed their families (subsistence) but are not allowed to hunt for profit. We were fortunate to get an invitation to dinner, which was a new twist on an old favorite, caribou burritos. Yum!

Words to know
Subsistence living-
Most people have regular jobs but take time off during different seasons to go hunting to feed there families. Subsistence families will share their catch with the community, parcticularly elders who are unable to hunt.

Learn more about our project here
View curriculum for this project, “Ask a Scientist” and learn about other Arctic Real Time research at Arctic Alive
City of Kotzebue Webpage
Listen to the local radio station KOTZ live

Martha Whiting, a native Inupiaq woman who has lived most of her life in Kozebue. She gave a conference call interview about traditional ecological knowledge

Terry Reynolds, a member of our team working on interviewing Inupiaq Elders and others to learn about TEK

Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.