Stay and Defend


In his first film, David Smith focuses on the efforts by villagers in Shaktoolik to construct a berm in front of the village to defend against increasingly dangerous storms.

Shaktoolik, Alaska

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Shaktoolik is a native village located on the eastern shore of the Norton Sound in the Bering Sea.  Shaktoolik was the first and southernmost Malemiut settlement on Norton Sound, occupied as early as 1839. 

Twelve miles northeast of Shaktoolik was Iyatayet, which may have been the original settlement in this area around 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.  Over that time span, several other indigenous groups settled in the area as well. 

Villagers in Shaktoolik fish and follow a subsistence lifestyle, which is significantly dependent on climate conditions. Shaktoolik typically has a subarctic maritime climate but this is changing quickly with climate change. 

The most visible impact of climate change in Shaktoolik is the increased intensity of fall storms that imminently threaten the village.  Video interviews of villagers explaining the threat from storms and other climatic changes can be seen on the Impacts page.