This article identifies key types of local institutions rural Alaska Native communities use to manage subsistence resources such as fish, game, and edible plants. Local institutions are the informal rules and norms communities use to manage these and other natural resources. Other scholars have mostly discussed them in the context of how they help subsistence users cope with ecological fluctuations in the abundance of certain species. The study presented here discusses them within a larger context of social and economic change. These local institutions were identified based on personal interviews with 62 active subsistence users in six different Yup’ik communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Western Alaska. Participant-observation in subsistence activities like fishing and gathering supplemented the interview material. The key local institutions involve resource harvesting, resource processing, and resource sharing. The analysis of interview and observation data show that local institutions help households and communities cope with fluctuations in harvest amounts due to ecological perturbations, formal management regulations, and high fuel prices. Although local institutions can be fragile in the face of market pressures, and rationale for some institutions are not known by the younger generation, the strong role of sharing suggests that Yup’ik local institutions are expected to persist as climatic, environmental, economic, and social change continues.
West, Colin Thor and Ross, Connor. "Local Institutions for Subsistence Harvesting in Western Alaska: Assessing their Adaptive Role in the Context of Global Change." Journal of Ecological Anthropology 15, no. 1 (2012): 22-40.
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jea/vol15/iss1/2