For the Survival of Future Generations in the Face of Climate Change: Planning for Alaska Village Migration Using Cultural Heritage Based Principles
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Type of Work148 pages
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
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Historic preservation -- Theses
Climate-induced migration has become the last resort for communities in Alaska whose homes are threatened due to permafrost and shoreline erosion. As the indigenous youth and future leaders of Alaska’s Federation of Natives so powerfully state, the survival of their future generations, ways of life, traditional lands, intact ecosystems, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being are threatened by climate change. Communities in Alaska and around the world are facing loss of places due to a rapidly changing earth climate system. When migration to a new village site becomes a reality, understanding and recognizing the loss of place caused by disrupted routines, disconnection with the natural environment and loss of identity are the impetus for developing successful migration strategies that transfer the intangible aspects of place to a new location. This study posits a new preservation focus, one that services a broader agenda than saving existing places and encompasses a more inclusive social purpose in community migration, preserving traditional lifeways and assisting communities to self-determine their futures. Preservationists can be advocates for communities within a proposed place-based migration planning framework presented in this study. This treatise presents the concepts of reflective nostalgia—internalizing and acknowledging attachment to past memories, encounters, and traditions that were experienced in one place, and restorative nostalgia—as a way to move with these attachments to a new site. This study recognizes that migration plans must be cultural heritage and-place-based using restorative and reflective nostalgia as tools. Reflective nostalgia can provide salve for remembering and help preserve the past in preparation for restorative nostalgia to drive the creation of a new home. Preserving place—as a way to save identity, traditions, and cultural heritage—is examined through the experiences of four groups in North America. These profiles derive narrative and analyze past displacements and current migrations of the following indigenous groups: Ugiuvangmiut of King Island, Alaska, the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree of Quebec, Canada, the Qaluyaarmiut of Newtok, Alaska, and the Isle de Jean Charles Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha- Choctaw Tribe, Louisiana. Recommendations for how to support migration and the preservation of place are summarized in a set of principles for various phases of planning. The principles are influenced by the attention to culture and steps in Australia’s Burra Charter. The principles also draw upon climate relocation research in Alaska, as well as goals for migration developed by the Isle de Jean Charles Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe, Louisiana. The framework I propose uses restorative nostalgia as a tool to help transfer attachment to place to a new site. This migration framework process also includes indigenous groups taking the lead role in the planning and implementation in major decision making.