March 20 lecture focuses on global warming, Alaska's Iñupiaq people
The bowhead whale is central to the life and culture of the Iñupiaq people of northern Alaska. Whale jaw bones mark the graves in Point Hope Graveyard. Photo courtesy of Chie Sakakibara
Chie Sakakibara (left) with Fannie Akpik, Iñupiaq elder from Barrow, Alaska. Photo by Diana Martin, Iñupiat Heritage Center.
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11:48 a.m., March 4, 2009----The Iñupiaq people of Alaska live in the northernmost regions of the United States and the North American mainland, including the city of Barrow, the most northern U.S. city. In this harsh Arctic environment, the bowhead whale is central to Iñupiaq life and culture. In fact, the Iñupiaq identify themselves as the “People of the Whales.”

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However, global warming is not only affecting bowhead whales and the subsistence whaling on which the Iñupiaq depend, but it also threatens the oral traditions, traditional music, and indigenous world views of the Iñupiaq people, according to Chie Sakakibara, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

On Friday, March 20, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 127 Memorial Hall on the University of Delaware's Newark campus, Sakakibara will present the lecture “Kiavallakkikput Agviq--Cultural Responses to Climate Change among the Iñupiaq People of Arctic Alaska.”

As part of her research, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, Sakakibara conducted fieldwork in Barrow and Point Hope, Alaska, in 2004-2008. Currently working on her first book on the Iñupiaq people, Sakakibara also is collaborating with the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University on the Iñupiaq music heritage repatriation project.

During her lecture, Sakakibara will elaborate on the cultural survival efforts and sustainability of the Iñupiaq people in their environment and invite the audience to consider the past, present, and future of the polar region and beyond in a time of global climate change.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed by a catered reception. Seating is limited. Register online at this Web site.

The lecture will be Webcast live at this site and be made available as a podcast after the event at this site.

The lecture also will be simulcast into the University of Delaware's virtual world in Second Life, at this location. Note that you must have an avatar in Second Life to visit using this link.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Geography and the Department of Anthropology. It is the latest installment in the University's William S. Carlson International Polar Year Events, which celebrates the world's fourth International Polar Year and the University of Delaware president from 1946-1950, who was a polar explorer.

Article by Tracey Bryant