It has been a long time coming, (and they voted aye once before to relocate in 2002 but there was no means to do it): on Wednesday residents voted 89-79 to relocate the traditional Alaska Inupiaq village of Shishmaref due to climate chaos: thinning ice, melting permafrost, rising seas, storm surges and erosion.
It is obvious the decision, a near split, is painful and divisive. The residents are intimately tied to the land/sea and have lived on Sarachef barrier island for eons, so having to leave is a spiritual as well as economic and cultural rupture.
I lived in Shishmaref in my formative childhood and it remains dear to my heart and inspired much of my novel Flight of the Goose (published 2005 but written long before that). In the end of the story, spoiler alert, the fictional village of Itiak must relocate as it is falling into the stormy sea, and I used some pathos from Keats in an epigraph:
"And, little town, thy streets forevermore will silent be;
and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return"
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