The Iñupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yupik peoples of Alaska have important relationships with polar bears that go back thousands of years. As part of the Arctic ecosystem, our people have always co-existed with polar bears and relied on polar bears for survival.
Our co-existence with polar bears is based on reciprocity and respect, expressed through celebrations of song and dance, artistic and spiritual traditions, and by sharing our resources.
The subsistence harvest of polar bears is a cornerstone of our cultures—providing essential nutrition and materials for clothing, shelter, and art. We ensure that our harvest practices are sustainable and that we uphold cultural standards of respect and care for animals and our environment. The health of our people, our cultures, our ecosystems, and polar bears are closely interconnected.