Huslia, Alaska: the forefront of climate change

A community’s connection to the land

Huslia is a village of mainly Koyukon Athabaskans, Alaskan natives and is located on the banks of the Koyukuk River in interior Alaska. Its residents still adhere to a subsistence lifestyle that relies on plant and animal resources gathered from the land. For thousands of years, they have depended on the land and rivers for game and fish.
Witnessing a changing climate
The people of Huslia now see significant changes around them. For instance, rivers freeze up later and break up earlier. You can just imagine what that means when you are living far away from the next village, there are no roads, and for much of the year you move around by snow-machines that depend on stable snow and ice conditions.

The Climate Witness Project in Huslia
Residents of Huslia along with Kathy Turco of Alaska Spirit Speaks, have produced an audio slideshow and a four part radio series that shows the community’s connection to the land and wildlife and the affect that climate change is having on this relationship. The project is funded by WWF.

An audio slideshow shares the experience of recent climate change as expressed by village elders, members of the Tribal Council and other community members from Huslia and nearby native villages. Their perspective of global warming derives from Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the land and subsistence resources, rather than a western scientific way of knowing. Local high school students, who also sorted most of the images, recorded the voices heard in the soundtrack of this programme.
 
The same high school students in Huslia also produced a four-part radio series about climate change. They interviewed elders in their community and spent hours processing the recordings. The end product was aired state-wide in Alaska.

Visiting Huslia
The people of Huslia invited Tonje Folkestad, climate change officer for the WWF International Arctic Programme, to come visit them in April 2005. Tonje met with the school students participating in the Climate Witness project and also had a chance to enjoy the tri-annual village carnival. Read about Tonje’s glimpse of life in the interior of Alaska.
Huslia, Alaska. / ©: WWF
Huslia, Alaska.
© WWF

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