Girdwood | Social scientist, Kawerak, Inc.
“While perhaps clichéd, I think it is true that future of salmon is the future of Alaska. If we can’t find ways to conserve, share and support salmon – one of the most iconic species in Alaska – we will continue to have great difficulty addressing the other challenges we face as a state. Salmon is something that almost all Alaskan’s can positively relate to in some way, and we should embrace that shared appreciation to work together and find ways to move forward collectively.”
Julie Raymond-Yakoubian is a social scientist with graduate and undergraduate degrees in anthropology; she is currently working on finishing her Ph.D. Since 2007 she has been an anthropologist and the Social Science Program Director for Kawerak, Inc., with a focus on salmon; specifically the Bering Strait indigenous peoples' relationship to salmon through time.
“My relationship with salmon is both personal and professional,” Raymond-Yakoubian explains. “Professionally, it centers on documenting traditional knowledge about all things salmon-related, advocating for subsistence rights, supporting equitable and informed management of salmon, and writing about these topics. Before permanently moving to Alaska in 1998 I wasn’t a 'salmon person'; I knew virtually nothing about salmon and had never even seen a live salmon swimming freely. Through my work I came to know about the long, complex, and important relationship with salmon that Alaska’s indigenous peoples have and now, many of my indigenous collaborators even refer to me as 'the salmon lady.’”
Raymond-Yakoubian and her employer, Kawerak, have made efforts to level the playing field for indigenous people in various settings, such as the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. She has facilitated the participation of numerous Bering Strait indigenous residents in fishery meetings, including helping individuals develop testimony. She has written and presented on topics relating to government-to-government consultation on fisheries issues, advocated for tribal representation on fishery management bodies, and collaborated with others to have fisheries-related meetings held in Nome, closer to Western Alaska salmon stakeholders. While these actions have made an impact, Raymond-Yakoubian believes we are still far from achieving equity when it comes to salmon.