Photo Essay

Waiting to Move

Create your library

Sign up or log in to save your favorite stories and lessons, create custom collections, and share with others.

The village of Shishmaref, inhabited for 400 years, is located on a small barrier island in the Chukchi Sea in northwestern Alaska. Home to a modern Inupiaq community, Shishmaref is on the front lines of climate change. The island, approximately a quarter mile wide and 3 miles in length, is facing evacuation due to erosion, increasingly powerful storms, and the thawing of permafrost. To feed their families, residents rely on a lifestyle of subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering.

The village suffers from a growing generational divide. Younger members of the community dream of leaving the island in search of jobs and a new life; they would leave behind centuries-old traditions. In 2002, the island's inhabitants voted to move the community to the mainland, officially making them the world's first climate refugees. As of 2016, very little progress has been made and the government has yet to provide the necessary funds to relocate the village.

More to Explore

Article
The Skeleton of the Isle de Jean Charles
Walk, as residents once did before the promise of oil brought a paved road, out to the Isle de Jean Charles and your gut will tell you what you already logically …
Create your library

Sign up or log in to save your favorite stories and lessons, create custom collections, and share with others.

Photo Essay
Kiribati is Gone
I travelled to Kiribati for a month to witness firsthand the problems and challenges of everyday living in the small island country. The story of Kiribati, located …
Create your library

Sign up or log in to save your favorite stories and lessons, create custom collections, and share with others.

Photo Essay
Melting Away
Melting Away is a collection of images which concentrate on the fragile environment of the polar regions and capture the uniqueness of icebergs that are currently …
Create your library

Sign up or log in to save your favorite stories and lessons, create custom collections, and share with others.

Watch Anytime, Anywhere

Watch our films on your phone, tablet, or connected TV.