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Alaska village still home despite climate threat

SHISHMAREF, Alaska (AP) — “Home sweet home.” This is what Helen Kakoona calls her Alaskan village of Shishmaref when requested what it is wish to reside on a distant barrier island close to the Arctic Circle.

Their homeland and conventional life-style maintained for 1000’s of years is in danger, susceptible to the consequences of climate change with rising sea ranges, erosion and the lack of protecting sea ice.

So a lot has been misplaced over time that residents have twice voted to maneuver. But Shishmaref stays in the identical place. Moving is just too costly. Seal searching, fishing and berry choosing make a residing on this Inupiat village of 600 individuals. Some concern that in the event that they transfer they’ll lose the normal lifestyle they inherited from their ancestors.

On a current day, hunters boarded boats within the village lagoon at dawn and returned within the night trolling noticed seals. Kakoona and her mom helped pores and skin the seals with an “ulu,” or lady’s knife, and ready for his or her therapeutic over a week-long course of.

“Nowhere else feels like home than here,” stated Kakoona, 28. She tried to settle in several cities, however ultimately returned to Shishmaref to stick with her mom, Mary Kakoona, 63.

“I know we’re going to have to move at some point,” Mary stated of a transfer that generally appears inevitable. “The water is rising and this island is getting smaller.”

Shishmaref is located on an island 1 / 4 of a mile huge and about three miles lengthy. It is one in all dozens of Alaskan villages threatened by climate change.

“We’ve been here all our lives,” stated Ned Ahgupuk, a Shishmaref resident, who was strolling on the seashore together with his girlfriend and their one-year-old son the opposite day at sundown. Climate change is “kind of” an issue, he stated, however he will not be leaving the island. “Everyone,” he stated, “is like a big family that takes care of each other.”

Sadie McGill and husband Tracy McGill agree. On a cool autumn day, they had been enjoying with puppies bred to be sled canine in entrance of the home the place she was born and raised. After residing overseas, she lately returned to the village to care for her getting old mom. She is anxious in regards to the results of climate change and can be keen to maneuver, however would slightly keep at home.

“It’s really sad to see our homeland disappearing into the ocean,” she stated. “I want to stay here, where we were raised and born — and (where) we know how to survive.”


The Associated Press’s climate and environmental reporting is supported by a number of non-public foundations. Learn extra about AP’s climate initiative right here. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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