Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Stopover in Shaktoolik

After spending a day and a half in Unalakleet, Taz and I stop in the community of Shaktoolik for a six hour layover before heading back to Nome. Just like upon our arrival into Unalakleet, we are greeted by barking dogs, the smell of salmon curing, residents riding four-wheelers and boats, snowmachines and crab pots spilling out from dirt pathed driveways that wind their way to simple one and two room homes.
Shaktoolik is one of Alaska's native villages that suffers from extreme flooding during the fall and spring storms. Nestled along the shores of Norton Sound, surrounded by the sound and a river,residents are currently building a seawall of sand and rocks that, once completed, will run the entire one mile length of this town of 300 Inupiat people living a subsistence lifestyle.

Piles of driftwood litter the long beach, with its murky waters and rolling waves. Locals were very friendly towards us, asking where we were from and what had brought us to their village. When school let out, children poured from the K-12 school, one of the newest buildings in the community, and I spent an hour playing basketball with Jimmy, Rodan and their sister Elsa.

While Unalakleet is a major hub for flights to numerous surrounding villages, flights in and out of Shaktoolik are often rescheduled and just as-needed.  Waiting for our delayed flight, we spent two hours at the airport, which consists of a gravel runway and locked metal shed. We sat on a wooden palette and watched the distant thunder storms roll over Norton Sound.

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