Children of the Arctic is a portrait of five Native Alaskan teenagers coming of age in Barrow, Alaska - the northern-most community of the United States. As they embark on their journey into adulthood in and outside of Barrow, they wrestle with their roles as inheritors of a jeopardized culture.
For the Iñupiat teenagers of Barrow growing up has become a little more complicated than it was for their ancestors who originally named this place “Ukpiaġvik” (“a place to hunt snowy owls”). They are the twenty-first century descendants of a culture that has endured for more than a millennium on this isolated, but now rapidly changing tundra. The trappings of western civilization betray a fusion of cultures that can appear seamless. When a polar bear wanders toward town nowadays, the community is alerted via Facebook. Yet their centuriesold hunting culture is still alive and well.
The harvest of the aġviq (bowhead whale) remains the heart of their culture ‐ in the fall, motor boats and modern methods are used, whereas, in the spring, whaling crews use the umiaq (a hand-made seal-skin boat) and ancient traditional methods.