AKSIK: Native voices from the frontlines of climate change
Climate change is most pronounced in the Arctic with:
- greater temperature increases than the rest of the planet;
- more intense storm activity; and
- significant ice, snow, and permafrost melt.
Native villages in Alaska are particularly vulnerable with their subsistence cultures closely attuned to the stability of regional biophysical conditions. We can all learn about climate change from the people in this region as they struggle to adapt and preserve their culture. This website serves as a video library of two native villages in Alaska on the front line of climate change - Savoonga and Shaktoolik - documenting the climate change impacts they are witnessing, describing their key vulnerabilities, and providing an in-depth study of storms and changing wind patterns.
Identifying the exposure of two subsistence villages in Alaska to climate change using traditional ecological knowledge
Between 2010 and 2012 we documented the climate change impacts being witnessed by residents of Savoonga and Shaktoolik (please see below). Their local and traditional ecological knowledge of environmental change in the Bering Strait Region is rich, vast, and nuanced in its specificity to their location and region.As published in Ignatowski and Rosales (2014), we documented the following environmental changes related to climate change in a manner that they understand the change:
In her debut film, Laura St. Andrews highlights the importance of hunting to the people of Savoonga by showcasing scenes of the natural landscape and interviews with village hunters. The film shows how the subsistence village draws its identity from the surrounding land.
In his first film, David Smith focuses on the efforts by villagers in Shaktoolik to construct a berm in front of the village to defend against increasingly dangerous storms.
The village of Shaktoolik is threatened by the increasingly severe fall storms associated with a warmer Arctic. Filmmaker Mera Kenney captures this perilous situation and highlights the village's need for a road to "somewhere safe.”
This film by Jonathan Ignatowski considers the climatic changes in Savoonga by exploring its impact on maintaining the village’s subsistence food culture.
Residents of Savoonga send out a message to world leaders and the global community about what they are seeing on the front lines of climate change.