"Our home is drowning": Inupiat storytelling and climate change in Point Hope, Alaska

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43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contemporary storytelling among the Iñupiat of Point Hope, Alaska, is a means of coping with the unpredictable future that climate change poses. Arctic climate change impacts Iñupiat lifeways on a cultural level by threatening their homeland, their sense of place, and their respect for the bowhead whale that is the basis of their cultural identity. What I found during my fieldwork was that traditional storytelling processed environmental changes as a way of maintaining a connection to a disappearing place. In this article I describe how environmental change is culturally manifest through tales of the supernatural, particularly spirit beings or ghosts. The types of Iñupiat stories and modes of telling them reveal people's uncertainty about the future. Examining how people perceive the loss of their homeland, I argue that Iñupiat storyelling both reveals and is a response to a changing physical and spiritual landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-475
Number of pages20
JournalGeographical Review
Volume98
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alaska
  • Climate change
  • Coastal erosion
  • Iñupiat
  • Point hope
  • Storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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