Accepted Paper:

Thin Ice: Addressing whales, beaver and the moral realm of climate change through community collaborative filmmaking in western Alaska  
Sarah Elder (University at Buffalo, State University of New York)

Paper short abstract:

What does an average winter temperature increase of 3.3°C (6°F) over the past 60 years in western Alaska mean? Using a community collaborative approach to ethnographic filmmaking, village participants and film director seek to understand and represent warming in a Yup’ik Eskimo village.

Paper long abstract:

What does an average winter temperature increase of 3.3°C (6°F) over the past 60 years in western Alaska mean? Using a community collaborative approach to ethnographic filmmaking, village participants and film director seek to understand and to represent this warming in the Yup'ik Eskimo village of Emmonak, Alaska on the coast of the Bering Sea. While residents see images on cable television of melting glaciers and stranded polar bears (in regions other than their own), they say they are not familiar with climate science or generalizations of global warming. For the film record, they choose to speak of what they know for fact: the early return of swallows, houses falling into the river, the deadly dangers of thin river ice and the invasions of damaging new species. They present as well their intimacy with tundra and place. Film participants articulate the grim consequences of human actions stemming from the mistreatment of wild game or the act of not sharing abundance, and draw links between individual human action and the environment's bounty or lack of it.

In the Yup'ik language the term "ellam yua" can mean weather, consciousness, universe or spirit of the universe. Yup'ik indigenous knowledge teaches that the world is changing because "it is following its people". "People are changing, the weather is changing". Village elders express a clear reciprocity between right human behavior and the natural world and explain that the cause of climate change is grounded ultimately in a moral realm. Film excerpts with paper.

Panel P32
Visualizing Climate - Changing Futures?