Over the three-day Nughelnik: Alaska Just Transition Summit in Anchorage May 20-22, Inletkeeper staff joined 500 other attendees from around the State of Alaska.
Organized by The Alaska Just Transition Collective – a coalition of Alaska partners building a shared visionary path for Alaska by addressing the growing political, economic, and ecological crises we face. The goals of this community are to inspire and catalyze action, connect and elevate partnerships, amplify the immediate needs of our communities, and create shared language across sectors. people power, rooted in an Indigenized worldview, toward healthy, sustainable, & just communities for ALL – the conference theme was Nughelnik, a Dena’ina phrase meaning “It is remembered within us.”
Nughelnik built on the first Alaska just transition summit in Fairbanks in January 2019, called Kohtr’elneyh, Dena’ina for “we remember.” A significant number of the organizing team and participants at both conferences were Indigenous Alaskans. One speaker said it is not about returning to the past, but about remembering Indigenous values and practices that we can bring forward with us into a better future for all:
The Alaska Just Transition Collective uses the Benhti Kanaga’ phrase Kohtr’elneyh, meaning “We Remember” in the language of the lower Tanana Dene peoples of interior Alaska, to honor the path we chose to take in Alaska for a Just Transition. We recognize that we must move forward informed by Indigenous knowledge to shape our current communities and build greater balance. By acknowledging the original stewards of these lands, Alaska Native peoples, we also uplift a knowledge system that has deep history and relationship to the lands all Alaskans currently call home. The Alaska Just Transition Collective strives to not only create a path forward by actively remembering a knowledge system that has lived in harmony with these lands for thousands of years. For us, a Just Transition means uplifting Indigenous place-based knowledge systems and ways of life while we shape regenerative economies, steward lands and waters, and build more just and equitable communities for all.
Our work at Inletkeeper focuses on protecting the Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains – all life, from kelp to fish to people. Attending the conference underscored the importance of centering justice in our work. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable is inevitable, simply because there are a finite amount of non-renewable resources and we are quickly depleting them. But justice is not inevitable. We have to work hard for it, to center workers’ rights and ensure healthy, sustainable systems instead of exploitative systems that have merely been green-washed, but that still harm people, communities, lands, and waters.
One of the ways we were able to give back during the conference was to lead a short training, supporting six people who tried visual notetaking for the first time. Visual notetaking, sometimes referred to as graphic recording, refers to the process of recording visualized notes during a speaker’s presentation. The goal is to synthesize core concepts and themes and depict them with simplified visual icons and metaphors. The human brain retains a much higher percentage of what it sees than what it hears, so visual notes help the audience engage during a presentation and retain more information afterward.
It was incredibly inspiring to see folks jump in and try their hand at the intellectually stimulating and challenging process.