[colloquium] Environmental Knowledges and Values in Kodiak Alutiiq Language Revitalization

 Many scholars and activists have observed the interwovenness of colonialism and environmental destruction, noting also the profound importance of Indigenous leadership to environmental and climate justice (LaDuke 1999; Whyte 2017; Baldwin, Noodin & Perley 2018; Gilio-Whitaker 2019). In this talk, I argue that the Kodiak Alutiiq language movement serves as a form of decolonial environmental education. I begin with a critique of problematic engagements with Indigenous environmental knowledges, including fetishization of these knowledges and extractive approaches that frame them as universal human property. Drawing on historical and contemporary data, I then show how land-based knowledges and values pervade Alutiiq language and culture, how destructive commercial fishing practices influenced Alutiiq language shift by displacing communities, and how non-Indigenous-led wildlife conservation infringes on Alutiiq subsistence practices yet fails to protect culturally important plants. I further show how environmental knowledges and values are transmitted via the Alutiiq language movement through land-based curriculum materials and intergenerational conversations that frame ecologically sustainable lifestyles in terms of pleasure rather than austerity. Finally, I follow Indigenous scholars in calling for Indigenous environmental knowledges and values to be acknowledged not merely as objects of study, or as resources to be extracted and integrated into other epistemologies, but instead as forms of Indigenous environmental self-determination.