A collaborative thought paper by the JustUS Network with support from Native Nations Institute, Raven’s Group, and Alaska Venture Fund

Executive Summary

In spring 2022, the Alaska Venture Fund (AVF) assembled a diverse group of Alaska Native leaders interested in elevating Indigenous approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation and in reasserting the primary role of Alaska Native nations in the stewardship of their lands and waters. This report summarizes the work carried out by this group, with support from the Native Nations Institute and Raven’s Group, in pursuit of these goals.

The JustUS Network seeks to advance Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination in Alaska in order to actively address climate challenges while creating sustainable economic and capacity building opportunities for tribes and communities.

The Network developed the Alaska Justice40 framework, which aims to advance the intertwined goals of (1) increased Indigenous environmental stewardship, which increases Alaska’s potential to address climate change, and (2) strengthened Indigenous self-determination, which provides opportunities for and supports Indigenous stewardship.

Alaska Justice40 Framework Overview

Purpose Statement
To advance Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination in Alaska to actively address climate challenges.

Position Statement
Local Indigenous knowledge in Alaska can transform humanity’s relationship with the world.

Guiding Principles

  • Indigenous knowledge is a critical resource in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Indigenous decision-making traditions offer an essential basis for climate solutions.
  • Indigenous self-determination is a necessary component of any successful climate strategy.
  • Collective, coordinated, Indigenous-led action is needed at all levels of governance.
  • Relationships that respect the sovereignty and priorities of Tribal Nations are essential.
  • Ongoing investment and funding in Indigenous capacity-building efforts is required.

Desired Long-Term Outcomes

  • Adoption of a statewide climate approach centered on Indigenous values, knowledge, and self-determination.
  • Increased understanding of self-determination in Alaska and its impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation and environmental stewardship goals.
  • A new, government-to-government relationship between Alaska Native peoples and the State of Alaska that treats Indigenous peoples as equals in addressing climate change and other challenges.
  • Increased equitable and practical engagement of Alaska Native people, nations, and organizations in climate strategies across the state.
  • Enhanced Indigenous capacity to translate core values and goals into environmental stewardship, cultural continuity, and effective governance.
  • More resources to address climate and other challenges to yield better outcomes for all Alaskans.

Projects and Actions
JustUS Network member-identified projects fall into three broad categories:

  1. Support Alaska Tribes to strengthen their sovereignty and self-determination.
  2. Strengthen relationships to land and environment in the time of climate change.
  3. Increase funding for tribal capacity building.