skip to primary navigation skip to content

Negotiating pathways to adulthood: social change and indigenous culture in four Arctic communities

Negotiating pathways to adulthood: social change and indigenous culture in four Arctic communities

Dr Olga Ulturgasheva, Project Director for Cambridge sub-award (£120,393)

This project, funded by the US National Science Foundation, examines shared and divergent stressors and resilience strategies among young people from communities among the Alaskan Inupiat, Alaskan Yup’ik, Canadian Inuit, Norwegian Sami and Siberian Eveny. The focus is on how rapid social change is manifested in the changing expectations and challenges which young indigenous people face in a world very different from that of their parents and grandparents.

At a planning meeting held at SPRI in 2009, youth, adult and elder community members and university researchers established a shared set of cross-site research questions and data collection strategies to use throughout the circumpolar region, covering interviewing, data collection, analysis procedures and local dissemination of findings. The event allowed indigenous youth and adults from each community to articulate their own social experiences while encountering and communicating with people from other field sites. It generated new ideas about how to pursue collaborative inquiry across cultural, national and disciplinary boundaries (Ulturgasheva et al 2011).

Fieldwork was conducted in Northwest Alaska (USA), Nunavut (Canada), Northeast Yakutia (Russia) and Finnmark (Norway).

Data collection has been completed in all sites, and the project has entered a stage of data translation, transcription, collaborative analysis and dissemination.

Siberian Eveny reindeer herders

The resilience strategies identified among youth will be used by the communities for programmes and policies to develop youth well-being. The findings across all research sites are planned to be published in a special issue of Transcultural Psychiatry.

Duration of the project: 2008-2012.


  • Ulturgasheva, O., Wexler, L., Kral, M., Allen, J., Mohatt, G.V., K. Nystad. 2011. Navigating International, Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Inquiry: Phase 1 Process in the Circumpolar Indigenous Pathways to Adulthood Project. In Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, Vol. (4)1: 50-59.
Siberian Eveny boys