The Arctic Sounder

New store opens in Selawik

A new building for the Selawik tribal store was expected to open its doors to customers on Nov. 1, three years after the old store burned down.

After the fire destroyed the old building in 2020, the Selawik tribe moved the store to a small 50-year-old Quonset hut and sold only a limited array of products, said Tribal Administrator of the Native Village of Selawik Tanya Ballot.

The new tribally owned and operated store will offer fresh produce, dry goods and clothing, Ballot said. The store will continue to be the sole fuel source in the community, she said.

“We are excited to be opening and finally able to provide the necessary food and dry goods our community needs,” Ballot said.

After the fire, the tribe resumed building the new store -- a long-term project first started about 14 years ago, Ballot said. Back in 2006, the tribe installed the thermal pilings at the site, and in 2012, a steel building was purchased from Olympia Steel in Philadelphia.

Eight construction workers led by Edward Loon Sr. completed the new store during the pandemic.

A grand opening ceremony will happen on Friday, Ballot added.


Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.