Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change: Their Perspective Will Leave You Thinking

I recently came across an excellent documentary that really changed some of my notions about climate change.

I’ve always been a bit curious about Inuit culture, especially after seeing a long but fascinating movie more than 10 years ago called Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, directed by Zacharias Kunuk.

And guess what? The documentary I want to tell you about is by the same director. But this time, Kunuk isn’t giving life to an old Inuit tale.

Rather he has lent a voice to a generation of Inuits who have witnessed tremendous changes in their lifetime.

FYI: The top clip is the trailer for Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, and the video at the bottom of the article is a 15-minute excerpt of the whole documentary.

This Is How the Alaskan Eskimos Lived 75 Years Ago, Quaint Documentary From 1940

An Alaskan Inuit girl in 1940, from a documentary film “Inuit Children in Alaska, 1940.” (Screenshot/YouTube)

Alaskan huskies. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Alaskan huskies. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Inuits only hunt to sustain themselves. Through the oral tradition, they pass down knowledge that they all share to this day.

This documentary features Inuit villagers recalling their younger years, when they used to live in the traditional settlements in northern Canada, where the Arctic temperatures drop to -40° Fahrenheit in winter.

During their lifetimes, Mary Simon, Livie Kullualik, Samueli Ammq—just to name a few—have observed great shifts in their environment.

Here are some of the changes they’ve noticed:

  • the disappearance of multi-year ice
  • the overpopulation of polar bears (according to them is due to wildlife biologists)
  • the lowered quality of their hunt
  • the thinning of the ice
  • the appearance of mud that might endanger their village’s future
  • the inability the predict the weather as they used to for so many generations

One of the most fascinating observations is how the sun isn’t setting at the same location it used to. See that link to find out how they’ve realized the poles are shifting.

Inuit life is changing quickly, according to the elders. (Youtube)

Inuit life is changing quickly, according to the elders. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Sadly, it seems the Inuit people will be among the first to suffer from issues linked to climate change. You can watch the full documentary here.

Here’s a 15 minute clip from Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change:


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