Photo of Chie Sakakibara
  • Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies


  • BA in native American studies, University of Oklahoma
  • BA in British American studies, Aichi Prefectural University, Japan
  • MA in art history, University of Oklahoma
  • PhD in geography, University of Oklahoma


Chie Sakakibara is a cultural geographer, and her teaching and research interests lie in the field of the human dimensions of global environmental change among indigenous peoples, specifically on their cultural resilience and socio-environmental justice. 

Her current research focuses on climate change and its influence on traditional relationships with the bowhead whale in the Alaskan Arctic, particularly among the indigenous Iñupiaq people who call themselves the “People of the Whales.”

In addition to her own research, she collaborates with the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University for their community-partnered Iñupiaq music heritage repatriation project. Sakakibara also explores climate change and cultural resilience among the islanders of the Azores, Autonomous Region of Portugal in the northern Atlantic.


  • Chie Sakakibara Receives Ainu Foundation Research Grant

    June 25, 2018

    Chie Sakakibara, assistant professor of environmental studies & East Asian studies, received a $10,000 research grant from the Foundation for Research & Promotion of Ainu Culture for her project titled "Community-Partnered Exploration of Ainu Environmental Justice and Heritage Resources.” Sakakibara will initiate an interdisciplinary ethnographic project on environmental justice and heritage in the indigenous Ainu community in Biratori, Hokkaido, Japan. Biratori is a community that has been known for its environmental activism since the 1970s. Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum received a gift of photographs taken by the German-American photographer Arnold Genthe (1869-1942; gift of Christopher Thomas ’75). Twenty-five photos in the collection were taken in 1908 in Biratori, and they are identified as the second-oldest set of photos that documented the people and environment of the settlement. This grant will allow Sakakibara to recover detailed contextual information about the photographs; develop community-wide consensus on the proper and future access and uses of these materials; support and enable contemporary and innovative uses of these materials by Ainu artists, educators, environmentalists, and the community.

  • Janet Fiskio and Chie Sakakibara Awarded Grant

    September 30, 2017

    Janet Fiskio and Chie Sakakibara were awarded a $40,000 National Science Foundation conference award for “Oral History and Local Knowledge: Methods of Resilience” in the Arctic Social Sciences Program. The grant supported a community history workshop in Africatown, Alabama at the historic Union Missionary Baptist Church. Approximately 40 community members, Inupiat elders, and Oberlin faculty and students participated in the workshop held during fall 2017.

  • Chie Sakakibara Awarded Best Paper

    September 18, 2017

    Chie Sakakibara, assistant professor of environmental studies, received an award for “Best Paper” with her piece "No Whale, No Music: Climate Change and Cultural Resilience Among the Iñupiat of Arctic Alaska." The paper took top honors in Category 1: Oral Traditions and Expressions and was presented on September 6-8, 2017 at Sharing Cultures 20175th International Conference on Intangible Heritage in Barcelos, Portugal.

  • Chie Sakakibara Serves as Panelist

    April 19, 2016

    Chie Sakakibara, assistant professor of environmental studies, served as a moderator at the Global Issues Symposium for the panel “Resilience at the Local Level: Environmental Attitude and Knowledge in Indigenous Communities” on April 8, 2016. The panelists included Caroline Cannon (Iñupiaq environmental activist from Point Hope, Alaska, Goldman Prize recipient of 2012), Amy Margaris (associate professor of anthropology), Frank Kelderman (visiting assistant professor of comparative American studies), and Matt Bahar (assistant professor of history).

    Sakakibara also served as an invited panelist for the symposium Ice Cubed: An Inquiry into the Aesthetics, History, and Science of Ice at Columbia University, where she discussed the influence of climate change on indigenous peoples in the Arctic.

  • Chie Sakakibara Conducts Fieldwork

    November 30, 2015

    Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Chie Sakakibara visited the Inupiaq community of Barrow, Alaska, November 22-28 for two current projects: 1) climate change and indigenous cultural resilience; and 2) the community-partnered Inupiaq music repatriation project for which she collaborates with the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, New York.