Carol Devine, Tahnee Prior & Gosia Smieszek

Maps can beautifully and, at times, wistfully tell us the story of us. However cartography, like history, often overwhelmingly documents the worlds, stories, and accomplishments of men. In these stories, the contributions of women, especially Indigenous women, rarely make it onto the map. This holds true in the Arctic as well. In this commentary, we explore the gendered dimension of map-making, honour the rare yet pivotal examples of female cartography, introduce Mapping Women of the Arctic – a way of re-imagining the Arctic through female placenames – and encourage readers to locate and highlight women’s contributions to the sciences, arts, policy, culture, diplomacy, history, exploration, and more. Inspired by Mapping Antarctic Women, an initiative that (re)maps the continent with female place names and tells the little-known stories of women’s contributions to the other pole, Mapping Women of the Arctic is a new, crowdsourced map-making initiative that seeks to celebrate and mark the unsung achievements of women in the Arctic.

Susanna Gartler

subsistence (n.)

early 15c., “existence, independence,” from Late Latin subsistentia “substance, reality,” in Medieval Latin also “stability,” from Latin subsistens, present participle of subsistere “stand still or firm” (see subsist). Latin subsistentia is a loan translation of Greek hypostasis “foundation, substance, real nature, subject matter; that which settles at the bottom, sediment,” literally “anything set under. (Etymonline, 2017)

Robert P. Wheelersburg

In 1973, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme compared the American “Christmas Bombings” of Hanoi to Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust (New York Times, 1973). By taking similar positions against other countries, Sweden attempted to become the world’s human-rights conscience. Yet for several centuries, Sweden systematically eroded the Indigenous rights of Sámi reindeer herders through royal decrees, laws, border treaties, and social programs (e.g., Nomad Schools). Despite signing the Arctic Council’s 2021 Reykjavik Declaration affirming Indigenous rights, Sweden has failed to do so for its own Indigenous people. In fact, Sweden continues to actively fight against Sámi Indigenous rights in parliament and with legal action. Thus, despite what some Arctic Council (AC) members say publicly, states like Sweden are violating treaties they signed and need to be sanctioned to force them to uphold those treaties. Without enforcement, it may be only a matter of time before Arctic Indigenous peoples lose their cultures, and in the words of former Sámi reindeer herder and artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s (1994), “follow the tracks of the wind”.

Barry Scott Zellen

Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in the summer of 2021, attention has been once again refocused on the importance of the human terrain to regional stability and security – whether in the old battle zones of the Global War on Terror, or future theatres of potential conflict such as what the United States Navy has recently described as the Blue Arctic. If there is a system-wide vulnerability that could be exploited by a diplomatically skilled and economically powerful external actor in the Blue Arctic, it would most likely be found in its least populous and most remote areas where human security issues remain a work in progress. If there is to be a new Cold War in the Arctic region – and many believe there already is one – continued gains in native development will be crucial to its successful outcome. And it is here that the United States and its Arctic allies possess many natural advantages, presenting the world with an exemplary model for more inclusive and effective governance in partnership with the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

Michael Paul

The 2021 anniversary marked three hundred years since Hans Egede set sail, with the blessing of the Danish monarch, to missionize the population of Greenland. For some people of Kalaallit Nunaat that date symbolizes not an occasion to celebrate but rather to declare independence from Denmark. But in the absence of necessary governmental and economic preconditions, leaving the Realm of the Danish Crown seems to be a long-term goal. The new government in Nuuk wants to boost the independence process but many problems remain. A more central role in the Arctic Council is a step forward.

Susana Hancock

If one were to extend the nooks and crannies of Maine’s coastline, it would reach more than 3,400 miles from the state’s southern terminus to the North Pole and beyond. It is a stretch that from trade among the Red Paint People to subsistence cod fisheries has been entrenched in the region’s culture, livelihoods and ecological approach for more than 10,000 years. Despite this northern connection, the United States traditionally has viewed its relation with the Arctic through Alaska. However, as the country faces increasing climate threats and is under pressure to divest from petroleum, Maine is capitalizing on the opportunity to rewrite the national narrative and frame itself as a true Arctic player. As part of this process, Maine is finding economic prosperity, forging global partnerships and ushering in a carbon-free future. If the United States is committed to meeting its environmental promises while concurrently spurring economic ingenuity, it best pay attention.

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