The first generation of the Indigenous Sentinels Network - then called the Bering Watch/Island Sentinel Program - began in the early 2000s when the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island (ACSPI) hired sentinels to monitor wildlife species and environmental conditions in the Pribilof Islands. The monitoring program has been refined over the last 20 years by Tribal employees, contractors, and local volunteers. The ACSPI Ecosystem Conservation Office principally led this effort.
The BeringWatch Sentinel Program has evolved with technology over the past 20 years. The program started out by collecting data with waterproof data books, which evolved into using Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for field data collection. Data are now collected through iOS and Android applications or ‘Apps’. Information is stored in an online database to facilitate collaboration and data sharing amongst Tribes, communities, and partners. The insights that have been pulled from this program have provided significant benefits to the people of St. Paul Island and other Indigenous communities throughout Alaska.
The Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government (TGSPI) is a governmental venue through which the Unangan of St. Paul Island can fulfill their intrinsic rights and responsibilities, and support, recollect, practice, and pass on their culture. TGSPI promotes, maintains, and protects cultural practices, awareness, preservation, self-governance, and self-determination for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island. The Tribal Government does much in its power to provide for the well-being of the community; continuously thinking outside the box in a challenging strive towards developing and keeping expertise and services that contribute to social and economic security and presence on the home island.
One of the goals of ISN is to provide remote, indigenous communities with tools, training, networking and convening, coordination, and capacity for ecological, environmental, and climate monitoring. By employing skilled and experienced staff we have created a broad tribal, agency, and academic environmental network, including a network of interested third-party customers of data. The Northern Latitudes Partnerships and other key partners are working to help expand this program throughout Alaska and Western Canada, which can complement and support ongoing monitoring efforts, such as the Indigenous Guardians program.
Through the creation and large-scale implementation of the ISN technology platform among tribal and First Nations governments, we hope to empower communities to capture and align a network of data that demonstrates the dramatic changes being observed in northern communities.