Kivalina Hunters and Elders Speak Out with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
On February 16, 2015 Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell met with community elders, hunters and search and rescue volunteers at Kivalina’s McQueen School gymnasium.
Those who gathered shared with her a wide range of climate concerns ranging from melting permafrost and unstable river travel to ocean acidification and disruption of critical migration routes. Community members talked about intense fall storms, which, because of the late-forming sea ice, have led to severe coastal erosion since 2004. Whaling captains alluded to the spiritual importance of the spring bowhead hunt, made difficult by unstable ice conditions in recent decades.
Throughout the session, elders also recounted far more than their observations of a changing landscape. They spoke of enduring more than one hundred years of state intervention — ever since the federal government forced the semi-nomadic Kivalliñiġmiut nation to inhabit a barrier island at the edge of the Chukchi Sea now exposed to the impacts of climate change.