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“Who We Are Now”: Iñupiaq Youth On the Ice

Joanna Hearne


This essay considers Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s 2011 feature film On the Ice, about Iñupiaq youth in Barrow, Alaska, in the context of Arctic and Indigenous cinemas and the American western. Reading the film through Inuit and Iñupiaq concepts and engaging with the film’s depictions of cultural syncretism, Indigenous hip hop, Iñupiaq hunting culture, and film genres, the essay argues that Iñupiaq sovereignty of the camera, as an adaptive aesthetic practice, strengthens the work and the value of traditional knowledge in a connected world.


Arctic film; Indigenous film; Native American film; Iñupiaq culture in film; youth culture in film; Indigenous hip hop; westerns

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