Graduation Date

Fall 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Laurie Richmond

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Erin Kelly

Second Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Joseph Brewer

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

Dr. Jessica Black

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Fifth Committee Member Name

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


Gwich’in People of Interior Alaska have historically exercised self-governance in the Yukon Flats to protect traditional and customary use practices. A number of factors have challenged Gwich’in self-governance: land ownership in rural Alaska being under multiple jurisdictions, which has created complicated parameters for management of fish and wildlife; and the legal history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which has created an arbitrary and fragmented management system. Despite these challenges, Alaska Native communities have been working to reassert their self-governance over important lands and resources. One example is the co-management arrangement between the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Yukon Flats. CATG is a consortium of Gwich'in and Koyukon Athabascan tribes located throughout the Yukon Flats. CATG and the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge negotiated an Annual Funding Agreement (AFA) since 2004, performing activities related to moose management in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Interior Alaska. The Agreement provides for the CATG to perform certain programs, services, functions and activities for the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

This thesis aims to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the co-management arrangement between CATG and USFWS related to the management of moose in the Yukon Flats. Through my research, I illustrate the importance and need for a better system of communication and understanding of regulation for Alaska Native People and their environment. This research advances knowledge about co-management for natural resource managers and adds to the growing body of regional work to promote Indigenous knowledge practice and sustainable management.

Methods utilized include semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and participant observation to understand attributes important to co-management success in the context of moose management in interior Alaska. Success is analyzed through the adaptive co-management (ACM) framework developed by Armitage et al. (2009) to evaluate the CATG co-management arrangement with regards to moose management.

My research findings show that of the 10 design principles, 3 have been met, 1 was not met, and 6 have only partially been met. This analysis reveals that the co-management arrangement as it was developed offers significant potential for success. However, the majority of the principles remain partially met rather than fully met, indicating that there is a lot more that the parties – particularly the USFWS – must do to maintain the agreement and develop true co-management. The ability of secure and consistent is critical to continue the implementation of the co-management arrangement in the Yukon Flats.

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