Tiny Alaskan Village Votes to Leave 400-year-old Ancestral Land

Jon Capistrano
Jon Capistrano
August 29, 2016

Two days ago, the small village of Shishmaref, Alaska faced a crucial and life-changing vote as stated by Inhabitat.

Threatened by rising sea levels, they had to decide whether to stay in the village they and some of their ancestors have called home for around 400 years, or relocate to another area. The results are in and it was a very close vote.

There are about 600 people residing in Shishmaref, and the majority are Inupiat Inuit. The village voted to leave on an 89-78 vote, but it’s still the unofficial numbers as stated by city council secretary Donna Burr. She also added that the votes have yet to be certified. It also appears that the locals had a very hard time with the decision as they try to decide what would be the best for future generations.

Climate change has resulted in rising sea levels and in the next few decades, the residents may or may not have a choice. According to NOAA’s Arctic Change website – reduced sea ice stemming from climate change has led to higher storm surges. Homes, the village water system and other infrastructures are at risk.

Shishmaref also voted to leave and relocate to the mainland in 2002, but there was not enough federal funding to actually make the move. They need around $200 million to relocate, but the US Department of the Interior has only offered $8 million for tribes looking to move. Burr stated that the village would have to find ways to make the limited funds work.

Click here to read full story on Inhabitat

Featured Image Credit: Ian D. Keating

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