People of the Whales: Climate Change and Cultural Resilience Among Iñupiat of Arctic Alaska

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23 Scopus citations


Research on the human dimensions of global climate change should consider the way at-risk populations confront uncertainty through cultural practices. This is a vital point for indigenous peoples around the world, but particularly for those in the Arctic region where the effects of climate change are most dramatic. The Iñupiat of Arctic Alaska are especially susceptible to climatic and associated environmental changes, because they rely on sea ice to hunt the bowhead whale. Employing a humanistic approach, this paper reveals Iñupiaq cultural resilience by exploring how collective uncertainty tied to the effects of climate change is manifested in Iñupiaq lives. These experiences show how the human dimensions of climate change, cultural resilience, and identity politics are integrated in the Arctic. By reinforcing their cultural relationship with the bowhead whale, these Iñupiat better cope with an unpredictable future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-184
Number of pages26
JournalGeographical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Alaska
  • Iñupiat
  • climate change
  • humanistic geography
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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