With Old Traditions and New Tech, Young Inuit Chart Their Changing Landscape

For generations, hunting and being deeply in tune with the land have been essential parts of Inuit culture in the Hudson Bay region of northernmost Canada. As the coastline changes, Inuit youth are combining next-generation tech and tools with the Indigenous wisdom of their elders to chart the evolving marine landscape — and make it safer for people navigate.

Like young people everywhere, Inuit youth today are tethered to the internet, glued to their mobile phones. “They do have more of the Western culture than they do our traditional one,” says Baker. They are adept with technology and quick to catch on to the latest gear. But to gain Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, she says, they need to reconnect to the land.

That means following the path of their ancestors to become Inuit hunters. It means learning traditional Inuktitut place names, and the place-based knowledge those names convey. It means making their own pana, or snow knife, and knowing how to use it to build a life-saving shelter in a winter storm. It means knowing the rhythms of the ecosystem like they know their family’s habits, being as familiar with the landscape as with their own skin. Above all, it means spending time with elders and hearing the stories teaching Inuit wisdom and ways.

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Aug 30, 2022
Length: 23 minutes (5,858 words)

Living in a Doomed Paradise Where the Sea Consumes Cottages, Cliffs, and the A&W Drive-Thru

The Magdalen Islands are at the heart of climate change. As the shoreline drops into the sea, the advice is to retreat, but Taras Grescoe discovers stubbornness amongst the islanders.

“The joke we tell around here,” says Serge Bourgeois, the planning director for the municipality of the Magdalen Islands, “is that if we keep on retreating from the coast, pretty soon we’ll fall off the other edge into the sea.”

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Jul 19, 2022
Length: 19 minutes (4,800 words)

The Controversial Plan to Unleash the Mississippi

Past attempts to control the great Mississippi River through levees have led to significant land loss along the delta. Boyce Upholt asks: What more can be done — and at what cost?

One morning last summer, as we weave in his skiff through the parish’s marshland, Richie Blink tells me that the federal government has recently deleted 30-odd names from local nautical maps. Fleur Pond, Dry Cypress Bayou, Tom Loor Pass, Skipjack Bay: all have become undifferentiated, unlabeled expanses of open ocean.

It strikes me, though, that we’ve often failed to imagine the delta of the present. Despite all the focus on land loss and land building, we rarely pause to discuss what we mean by land. And here in Louisiana, land—and who should control it—is a sometimes squishy idea.

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Jul 12, 2022

It’s 10 P.M. Do You Know Where Your Cat Is?

In Iceland, traditionally a land of cat lovers, bans and curfews are redefining the human relationship with domestic cats:

As a cat owner, I had assumed the six or seven birds Ronja brought inside her first summer was all she had caught. Each time, I was shocked, but it took a wounded whimbrel, a shorebird, fighting for its life on the living room floor for me to accept the problem. Ronja has the character of a serial killer. About one-third of pet cats, mind you, are like the comic strip character Garfield. For the Garfields, hunting is not worth the effort, or only for the rare occasion. Some breeds are more dangerous than others. But for most cats, either they’ve got a killer personality or not: among owned cats, only around 20 percent are considered super hunters, so good at their craft that a single bell around their neck will do little to kill their ambition.

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: May 17, 2022
Length: 15 minutes (3,900 words)

Letting the Sea Have Its Way

There is no question that land is being lost to the sea — it is an inevitable part of climate change. However, as Erica Gies reports in this fascinating essay for Hakai, in some areas of the UK, the Environment Agency is not only acknowledging this — but helping the sea to win.

For that homeowner in Rodanthe, water has dictated immediate retreat from the coastline. Elsewhere around the world, people are beginning to leave coasts, usually on the heels of disasters or when they can no longer afford routine flooding or salt intrusion that fouls drinking water, kills plants, and spreads sewage.

Author: Erica Gies
Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: May 24, 2022
Length: 11 minutes (2,900 words)

The Whale Dying on the Mountain

On the “biological vibrance” of glaciers and what we stand to lose in the face of climate change.

Wolverines refrigerate kills in summer snow patches. Spiders prowl on glaciers, bears play on them, moss grows on them. More than 5,000 meters into the thin air of the Andes, the white-winged diuca finch weaves cozy nests of grass amid the aqua icicles of glacial cavities; this was the first known example of any bird other than a penguin regularly nesting on glacial ice, and it was first recorded just 10 years ago.

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Feb 16, 2016
Length: 14 minutes (3,700 words)

Declared Extinct, the Yaghan Rise in the Land of Fire

Jude Isabella takes a detailed look at the Indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego — people who have been described in many different ways over thousands of years.

The written record, centuries deep, becomes the narrative, limited and blinkered by the lens of a vastly different culture. There is a different story. Or, more precisely, stories.

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Mar 31, 2022
Length: 31 minutes (7,966 words)

Holy Mackerel, Where’d You Go?

“Now, as mackerel populations dwindle, a fish once taken for granted has stepped into a complicated spotlight, with people wondering if their decline can be reversed, or if—as once-abundant species like the Atlantic cod have done before them—mackerel will slip away for good.”

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Jan 18, 2022
Length: 12 minutes (3,230 words)

What Whale Barnacles Know

“Other than whale barnacles, nothing else reliably recorded the month-to-month movements of ancient whales, says Taylor. Bone tissue doesn’t care about the chemistry of the water it grew in; baleen does, but it’s hardly ever fossilized. But a well-preserved whale barnacle is the perfect time-traveling tracking device.”

Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Nov 9, 2021
Length: 18 minutes (4,655 words)

A Humpback Whodunit

“Its flesh fed a full range of terrestrial and marine scavengers. Its fate becomes part of the known record of whale deaths along North America’s west coast, helping to inform ocean managers and enhance a greater database of long-term trends, be they related to disease, human actions, or ocean conditions. And its skeleton is likely to educate and enthrall visitors to Calvert Island for decades to come.”

Author: Larry Pynn
Source: Hakai Magazine
Published: Sep 24, 2019
Length: 10 minutes (2,600 words)