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300 Villages: Shaktoolik

December 13, 2013

This week we travel to the native village of Shaktoolik, a coastal village about 125 miles east of Nome on Norton Sound. Shaktoolik mayor Eugene Asicksik tells us more.

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 “My name is Eugene Asicksik and I live in Shaktoolik, Alaska and I’m currently the mayor and I’m a commercial fisherman all my life. We’re about 260 to 270 [people].

We moved to this present location in 1975 and we had moved because of flooding and erosion that started back in 1963 up to today.

The village is laid out in blocks with four houses per block and it is a very straight village with one street down the middle. It made it very easy for electrical and water and sewer lines to be brought in at a later date – which we currently enjoy today.

We do participate in commercial herring fishing, commercial crab – there’s roughly six crabbers. Most of it – most of the fishermen – we do have 31 active fishing permits in the community so it’s commercial salmon fishing.

We’re a community of probably 60 – 50, 60 percent for subsistence and timing of food that was traditionally gathered has changed slightly because of either early spring or wetter or drier summers depending on the season and also later falls. I guess what’s most impacting is the late falls and the no ice in the Norton Sound – which used to buffer the storms that occur.

You know there is some concerns that the next storm we will have some over-topping and water into the community from the oceanside because of the continued erosion.

Well, I like living in Shaktoolik because it’s home, and we can do our subsistence in the summer. And we’ll also do subsistence in the winter. We’re not that much into trapping today but that was something I enjoyed doing in the old days;  and we also have winter ice crabbing through the ice and that — you could make a little bit of a living there.”

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