Carved Whale Vertebra
67.7189° N, 164.4922° W
Carving of a whale vertebra captured by the community of Kivalina and carved by Kivalina resident Russell Adams Jr. Kivalina is eroding due to insufficient sea ice formation in the fall from warming Arctic temperatures, leaving the coastline vulnerable to erosion from storms.
I purchased this whale bone carving from Russell Adams Jr., a Kivalina resident in his 40s whose family has lived in the area for generations. I was in Kivalina to do research on the Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil et al. lawsuit. But after talking to residents like Russell I realized the full extent and immediacy of the danger they face from climate change — not just the threat of losing their homeland, but their entire culture and way of life. The whale bone for me symbolized this way of life and the thousands-year Arctic culture the people are striving to preserve, which I describe in the book Kivalina: A Climate Change Story (2011).