Shaktoolik is located on the eastern shore of the Norton Sound in the Bering Sea. It lies 125 miles east of Nome and 33 miles north of Unalakleet. It is a Malemiut Eskimo village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. Shaktoolik has been known to have a subarctic maritime climate, but this is changing quickly with climate change. The Norton Sound is usually ice-free from May to October. Shaktoolik was the first and southernmost Malemiut settlement on Norton Sound, occupied as early as 1839. Twelve miles northeast of Shaktoolik on Cape Denbigh is Iyatayet, possibly the original settlement in this area around 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.
Residents of Shaktoolik were interviewed during the summer of 2010 about the impacts of climate change they are witnessing, how they are adapting, and what they would like to tell the world about their situation. These videos are linked below.
The most visible impact of climate change in Shaktoolik is the increased intensity of fall storms. Very large storms in 2005 and 2009 nearly destroyed the village. Driftwood which accompanied these storms piled up very near their houses. While the dritwood may have acted as a seawall to protect the village during the storm, it could also have acted as a battering ram if the storm surge was any higher.
Villagers also talk about how they are preparing for these large storms and alert us to their need for an evacuation route, a road and a bridge, to higher ground.