GLOBAL HEALING COMMUNITY
Earth Treasure Vase for Qutiagvik, Alaska
before the village will have to be moved
Dahr Jamail, an investigative journalist and author whose forthcoming book, “The End of Ice”, is a personal, visceral report from the front lines of some of the places where abrupt climate change is happening the fastest, has taken an Earth Treasure Vase to Barrow, Alaska, a place known as “ground zero” for scientists studying climate change.
America’s northernmost town, Barrow sits on the edge of the continent at the junction of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and has been home to the Native Inupiat Eskimo people for over 1000 years. The indigenous language has approx. 100 words for ice and their subtle variations, passed down verbally over thousands of years, can mean life or death for those who venture over frozen ocean, tundra, lake or river. Elders are repositories of knowledge, but conditions have changed so much that elders have begun to doubt their ice knowledge.
In Northernmost Alaska, permafrost is the layer of frozen Earth that begins about two feet beneath the surface and goes down some 2000 feet. Globally, permafrost holds an estimated 400 gigatons of methane, one of the greenhouse gasses hastening the Earth’s warming. As the permafrost thaws—which it has begun to do—lakes drain away and the thawed soil releases billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere. Likewise, snow reflects sunlight and once it melts, more energy is absorbed by the Earth melting even more snow.
“Whatever is going to happen to the rest of the world happens first in the Arctic. The Arctic is the mirror of the world,” says Dan Endres, who ran the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Barrow facility for 25 years.
Alaska was Dahr’s home for a decade and he feels a deep soul connection to the land there, having spent most of his summers in the Alaska Range. He is grateful for the spiritual support of the Earth Treasure Vase Mandala as he documented the climate changes occurring there for his book, and kindly offered to carry this Earth Treasure Vase along with all of our prayers for this most pressing issue of our time.
The Burial Ceremony
By Dahr Jamail
Qutiagvik (formerly Barrow) is an ancient whaling village located on the northernmost point of land in the Continental US in Alaska. It is also on the very front lines of human-caused climate disruption, as it is already experiencing temperatures up to 8C warmer than average. In August when I was there, the temperature reached 70F more than once, when normally it should have averaged in the upper 40’s. The permafrost is thawing, coupled with dramatically receding sea ice, which together have kicked coastal-erosion into high gear, as parts of the coast are eroding now at an average of 10 feet per year. Alaska now has more than 30 villages across the northern slope that will have to be relocated due to climate impacts.
Yet, the place maintains its mystical quality. Walking the coast the morning when I took the Earth Treasure Vase to be placed, the fog rolling off the Arctic Ocean enveloped everything. With the summer sun never setting, images came and went as the fog provided brief glimpses before taking them away. The Earth Treasure Vase led me to a site on the edge of the coast – at the base of a cliff that was eroding, but still high enough to be technically on land.
The site was an absolute convergence zone where the rising seas, more powerful storms (because of seas opening from the receding sea ice), and the thawing permafrost all meet. After an extended meditation (following the protocol outlined in the Earth Treasure Vase prayer), I dug a deep hole in the sand there and offered the Vase with all its prayers out to the universe and to Gaia for healing. The fog began to dissipate as I buried the Earth Treasure Vase, and afterwards I stood quietly and stared out over the Chukchi Sea, then quietly walked back to my lodging.
The place felt very much like an acupuncture point for the planet, given how deeply this village is on the front lines of climate change. My getting to carry this vase to that special place was an integral part of my writing process for my book, and given my deep history with Alaska and how meaningful that land is to me personally, my heart opened, and offering the Earth Treasure Vase, I offered my book to the planet too – feeling in perfect synchronicity with the ceremony and process.
The village of Qutkiagvik feels like a living relic, in that it will have to move within my lifetime, despite the fact it is by far the most populous village in northern Alaska. Most of the people there are aware of that, and I felt honored to get to be there while it is still in the same location as it has been for more than 2,000 years.
‘’For me, bringing the Earth Treasure Vase there felt like I was making an homage to the planet. Not to save that place, and other places like it, but to offer a deep bow of thanks for having given us such a place, and the time we have left there.’’