Born in Savoonga, Alaska, Caleb Lumen Pungowiyi was a strong advocate for conservation, subsistence, and Alaska Native stewardship of resources. Caleb was imbued with the marine traditions of conservation by use—protecting marine habitats through subsistence lifeways.
Caleb served on a myriad boards and commissions, offering incomparable wisdom between traditional and modern communities.
Among his many roles were President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, where he negotiated full access for Arctic Indigenous People to fully participate in meetings of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. He served on the Advisory Committees of the National Science Foundation, the Marine Mammal Commission, the Alaska Native Science Commission, Oceana, and as the President of kawerak, Inc.
Caleb championed education and encouraged fellow Inuit to work cooperatively with businesses, advocacy groups, and government organizations to preserve and protect our resources. He cultivated relationships between Indigenous peoples, conservationists, modern scientists, and governing agencies at a time when such relationships had yet to exist.
Caleb’s wish for a marine-focused Scholars Program was born out of the recognition that the Arctic’s indigenous people have a unique place in the modern, niche field of marine conservation. The Program supports young people to carry on this legacy through their pursuits to engage in marine-related issues facing the Arctic—now, and into the future.
In his honor, the Caleb Scholars Program is a unique advocacy development program that takes a multifaceted approach to support our scholars; we invest in five components that are key to developing Inuit conservation advocacy including: community connection, cultural connection, professional development, mentorship support, and monetary support.
Caleb was motivated to see an increase of Alaskan Inuit in fields related to conservation, responsible development, the protection of subsistence rights and cultural heritage, and an in increase the number and visibility of strong Alaskan Inuit leaders. Our program has helped in achieving these goals through a focus on cultural, educational, and professional training strategies.
Caleb is survived by his wife, Gladys, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the many colleagues and friends who remain inspired by his work to make positive impacts across Arctic ecosystems.
Listen to an interview with Caleb on KNOM’s “Elder Voices” archives here: http://www.knom.org/wp/blog/2017/06/06/elder-voices-caleb-pungowiyi/
The Caleb Scholars Program supports Alaska Native students from Arctic regions. Our scholars continue Caleb Pungowiyi’s legacy of advocacy by stewarding our ancestral knowledge and protecting our Arctic communities and ecosystems.
Empowered Alaska Native scholars: Leading the way to thriving ecosystems through ancestral knowledge and stewardship.
The Caleb Scholars Program is an innovative, Inuit-led conservation advocacy development program focusing on five key components:
- Cultural and community connection
- Professional development
- Wellness support
- Mentorship support
- Financial support(scholarship funding, internship/research funding, extracurricular funding)
The purpose of our program is to honor and carry forward the legacy of Caleb Lumen Pungowiyi by providing financial and community support for individuals pursuing higher education, with the goal of cultivating Alaskan Inuit leaders and advancing Inuit-led conservation advocacy. Inuit-led conservation advocacy must begin in Inuit Nunaat.
- A commitment to community and conservation advocacy
- A commitment to perpetuating Inuit culture, values, and tradition
- A commitment to sharing and cooperation in relation to resources
- A commitment to preserving subsistence practices
- A commitment to personal, professional, and academic growth