Rita Asgeirsson

Rita Asgeirsson

Rita Asgeirsson

Major BS in Native Environmental Science
Background Yup'ik Eskimo

About

Rita Asgeirsson was raised in a rural Alaskan village of 600 people on the Yukon Delta. She is Yup’ik Eskimo, the eldest of nine children, and a mother of one daughter. She remains connected to her home community and culture, returning home each year to prepare and store traditional foods such as salmon, seals, birds and whales. Rita is a first-generation college graduate. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from NWIC in Native Environmental Science in June of 2012. In September 2012, Rita began the Master of Science in Geography program at Western Washington University, where she specializes in Resource Conservation and Management. The program allows Rita to continue the work she started at NWIC – analyzing the complexity of natural resource management on the Yukon Delta and identifying management practices that reduce the Yukon River salmon population, impede harvest of this traditional food, and exploring options that may give local tribes legal responsibility over salmon conservation efforts. “Salmon is a cultural and keystone species to the Yup’ik Eskimo of the Yukon Delta,” Rita said. “With the high cost of living and lack of employment opportunities, the dependence on the salmon harvest, both traditionally and commercially, is magnified. In Indian Country right now, people are discussing how Native science can contribute to existing conversations about issues such climate change or natural resource depredation. I feel, as an NWIC graduate, prepared and able to join and add value to that conversation through my salmon research.” Through graduate studies, Rita will explore options to improve multi-governance communication and, most importantly, include the primary and historically excluded stakeholders: the Yup’ik Eskimo residents of the Yukon Delta. Rita said the tribal college experience was vital to her academic pursuits. “I felt like NWIC, as a tribal college, was able to speak to my sense of place so that I could begin to think about how my education could address the needs of my home community,” Rita said. “I think tribal colleges are unique in that students remain connected to native communities with access to our elders and to tribal professionals. I think these types of learning and networking opportunities give us a step ahead as far as connecting tribal college research to mainstream research.”