BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Media Study Professor
Sarah Elder, an ethnographic filmmaker of international
recognition, will introduce her latest new project, "Surviving
Arctic Climate Change: A Documentary on Inuit Knowledge," on April
15 from 4-6 p.m. in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood
The film, and the discussion with Elder to follow, will be free
and open to the public.
This project, which celebrates the Inuit way of life and system
of values that is disappearing in the face of global climate
change, was produced with the full participation of a Yup'ik Eskimo
community located on the coast of the Bering Sea. For 30 years,
Elder has collaborated with Alaskan Native peoples to produce a
series of award-winning films that include "The Drums of Winter"
and "At the Time of Whaling."
She says, "This film documents ways in which residents respond
to indeterminacy and the loss of economic and hunting/fishing
viability. It investigates the shifts in cultural consciousness
that occur when the environment no longer sustains, but menaces the
survival of cultural knowledge and the practices of daily
Elder, whose home base for 25 years has been in Fairbanks,
Alaska, says the impact of climate change on the Arctic is perhaps
greater than anywhere else on earth.
"With rising sea levels, the loss of ancestral salmon fisheries
and a warming tundra, Alaska's Native peoples are suffering from a
cascading chain of environmental collapse," she says. "In the
discourse of global warming, the threat to arctic species
biodiversity often receives more attention than the threatened
extinction of arctic aboriginal knowledge, values and
The project was supported in part by a 2009-10 University at
Buffalo Civic Engagement Research Fellowship and a 2010-11 UB
Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship.