The Resilient North

How We Can Learn From Northern Cultures

Bryce M. Watts

The circumpolar north is a rich landscape of striking features and harsh climates, but it isn’t a land devoid of life. It is a safe haven for migratory birds, and provides a seasonal bounty that supports some of the largest herds on earth. The cultures that have developed on these lands are some of the most resilient in the world and offer valuable lessons on how we can coexist with nature. To not only live, but thrive on these lands, people had to adapt to conditions that were at times unpredictable.

Our continued reliance on fossil fuels and mineral resources has placed the Arctic tundra and boreal forest in the consciousness of western minds. Taking advantage of this perceived wealth is now causing a severe loss of cultural heritage and sovereignty, and is testing the resolve of these peoples. In Scandinavia, the Sami’s traditional migratory routes are constantly in flux due to new infrastructure designed to access mineral-rich areas. In northern Canada, the Inuit are perpetuating cultural traditions alongside the standardized educational system. In this issue we explore the varied cultures of the Great White North and how the changing landscapes are placing these peoples at the forefront of a changing planet.

Through the work of a number of inspiring initiatives, northern peoples are looking back in order to look forward. They are revitalizing generations-old traditions and appreciating the vastness of their cultural landscape, resulting in increased recognition from the rest of the world for their connection to their natural environment. With projects that are reviving traditional plant uses and reclaiming historically significant places, these cultures are reasserting their sovereignty in a land where their rights have historically been pushed aside in pursuit of monetary gain.

In this issue we set aside common misconceptions of the North as a bleak, frozen landscape, and showcase its vibrant cultures and rich history. By valuing the voices of the traditional inhabitants of the North, we can gain valuable insights into ways to coexist with nature in some of its more extreme manifestations.

Thank you for your interest in Forager magazine and the work that Forager Foundation is doing. Our primary mandates are to promote Traditional Knowledge and cultural heritage, and to build a stronger relationship with the natural environment. By reading this publication you are helping us achieve this goal. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to us and lend your voice to our growing network of like-minded individuals.