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© Henry Oyoumick

Climate witness in Unalakleet, Alaska

Unalakleet, Alaska
The place where the east wind blows
Unalakleet is located on Norton Sound and is part of the Bering Sea Ecoregion. It is known as the “place where the east wind blows” and means the “most southerly point” in the Inupiaq language.
The community lies between three cultural groups: Inupiaq Eskimos to the North, Yupik Eskimos within Unalakleet and southward and the Athabaskans to the east.

Many people in Unalakleet continue to rely on a subsistence lifestyle and rely on the marine, fresh waters, land, and air resources. The closeness of the land and the respect of its resources has kept the people in harmony with the environment.

WWF funded Climate Witness project

The WWF Global Arctic Programme funded a Climate Witness project in Unalakleet in which students were able to explore climate change through science fair projects as well as interviews with local elders.

Talking to elders about the changes they have witnessed

Many elders in the village of Unalakleet have observed major changes that global warming has brought upon the environment within the past few decades.

Some students interviewed local elders and were surprised of their knowledge of global warming and the trend that they saw. The camaraderie between the youth and the elders was phenomenal and provided a great learning experience for the students.

Some of these changes include: warmer summers, colder spring and winters, new animals and insects, more diseased and beached water mammals.

Watch video: the elders of Unalakleet to talk high school students about the changes in the loval environment that they have noticed in recent years.
Unalakleet, Alaska.
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© Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Unalakleet, Alaska. UNEP/GRID-Arendal
© Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Chinook salmon (<i>Oncorhynchus tshawytscha</i>) drying on rack. The people of ... 
© Henry Oyoumick
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) drying on rack. The people of Unalakleet, Alaska have relyied on wildmeat as an important part of their diet for thousands of years.
© Henry Oyoumick