Acacia Johnson

Sea Ice Stories
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Nationality: USA
Biography: Acacia Johnson is an artist and photographer from Alaska. Drawn to remote places and otherworldly landscapes, her work has focused on the environment, conservation, and the connections between people and place. After receiving a Fulbright grant to... MORE
Public Story
Sea Ice Stories
Copyright Acacia Johnson 2023
Updated Dec 2020
Topics Arctic, Spotlight
Every spring, when the school year comes to an end, Inuit families in Arctic Bay, Nunavut take to the land to camp, hunt, fish, and pass on traditional knowledge to their children. In a time of rapid climatic and cultural change, subsistence hunting is an important way for Nunavut's growing population of young people to remain intimately connected with the land and their culture, learning skills and values that help prepare them to be leaders and providers in their communities.

For two months in 2018, I lived and traveled with families in Arctic Bay, photographing how the community comes together to teach young people the land skills and traditional knowledge that the colonial education system does not provide. These images are from an annual ice fishing competition, when community members camp together at frozen lakes; from camping trips with families to ancestral hunting grounds; and from a land camp organized by Arctic Bay’s Inuujaq School, where youth and elders connect to pass on traditional skills to all children, regardless of whether or not their families have the resources to go hunting themselves.

As sea ice declines globally, I wanted to make pictures that could show how sea ice, and the rich marine ecosystem it fosters, remains an important platform for travel, community life, and subsistence. I wanted to make pictures that could capture something about the sense of joyousness felt on the land; the quiet beauty of the Arctic landscape; the relationships between young people and the natural world.

My heartfelt thanks to all the people in Arctic Bay who welcomed me into their lives for this project and generously shared their stories, kindness, humor, country food, qamutik space, and incredible knowledge of the land. 

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Sea Ice Stories by Acacia Johnson
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