Traditional Knowledge: the personal insight

This post is the result of the work with Sami communities within the station and devoted to the personal research insight.

What’s traditional knowledge? Why is it so important and so popular today? and Who has it?

All these questions may pop up in your head from time to time, yet have you ever given a deep thought to it?

I can consider myself as an Arctic resident for I was born and am still currently living in the Arctic, also several generations of my family has been living here. Thanks to my father, I have spent my childhood in the lap of the Arctic. We were fishing, hunting, gathering berries, learning how to make a fire, and how to orient ourselves in the deep forest…that was a call of the wild and this is how I was brought up. If there was ever a question that my father, mother or I could not answer, we were pointed in only one direction with the phrase – “Ask your grandparents!” This is the generation’s turnover, for no matter what, you will get an answer from your roots.

Yes, my family has had a few generations residing within the Arctic, but we are not part of the indigenous people. This means that we have the experience of how to live and survive in this area under these harsh conditions of the far North, but we don’t have the passed down traditional knowledge. Yet we are starting to gain it with each generation that lives within the Arctic. I imagine that in the far future some of the scientists and local residents of this area (if it will be populated at all) may look back and consider us as indigenous people as well, but who knows?

I do remember spending many a great evening with the Sami oldies, in which they told us amazing stories spanning at least 3-4 generations about the Arctic tundra. Stories about the long winters, long-distance reindeer over landing, strong and healthy Sami men and their caring women, all of which we call Northern Temper.

I wonder why modern scientists didn’t take this knowledge into account long before? Also why they have started to incorporate it into their science just recently? Yet still it’s only a minority that does so. Isn’t it the way in which all the discoveries, facilities, and scientific theories of our modern lifestyle have been achieved by now? Neither applied nor fundamental science within Arctic regions could exist without personal experience and knowledge passed down over just a few generations.

BUT…why am I writing this? Why do I think that all the scientists who study Arctic issues should incorporate traditional knowledge of indigenous people in their science?

Being a self proclaimed Arctic resident I can feel and experience the changes myself but I must admit that nowadays it is a one-sided experience. We are now the people of the media century, meaning we cannot be objective knowing the facts and evidence about changes that are happening and spreading through the media channels. We just simply have a media-based knowledge in which not all the published material is always correct. But those people who live their traditional way of life, who are remote from the tons of true and false information…they have perfect traditional knowledge…they are objective, and they can advocate for what they experience themselves truly…that’s why it is so vitally important to get back to their traditional knowledge, to their pure knowledge!


Photo by S.K.Konyaev

One thought on “Traditional Knowledge: the personal insight

  1. hannelewp4

    A great post Yulia, and about such an imporant topic! I can totally relate to your experiences as a person raised in a small northern community where we were taught “the ways of the forest” from early age on, and fishing, hunting and berry picking were -and still are- part of the everyday life in the area.

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