Skip to main Content
Rural Alaska

PHOTOS: Selawik, the Venice of Northwest Alaska

  • Author:
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 7, 2012

Melting ice cellars and rotting whale meat, the arrival of beaver fever in a once-pristine land, and water supplies that might go dry are just a few of the health risks posed by climate change in the Arctic.

Now, in a newly released fifth report examining looming threats to villages, the Center for Climate and Health at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium zeroes in on Selawik, a village of 830 about 70 miles southeast of Kotzebue that's said to be sinking as permafrost thaws.

The Inupiat village has been called the "Venice of Northwest Alaska" because of the settling ground. Stairs to some houses no longer reach the ground. Shifting water pipes break more easily. And some homes tilt so much toilet bowls can't fill with water for flushing, forcing families to return to the old-fashioned honeybucket.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.