Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

64 with seasonal food cycles (Bronen, 2013). BIA leadership believed this establishment of schools would serve as a catalyst for development of nearby permanent villages (Berardi, 1999). This decision caused historically mobile native populations to congregate near schools without benefit of any analysis of long-term suitability of a particular location. The process of selecting where to build these schools did not incorporate a threat assessment: no environmental surveys or consultation with native locals. The main concern was picking a location where a physical structure could be built, as village sites with desirable topography and soils were sparse in many settlements. Choosing where to locate new schools was driven by building concerns rather than environmental suitability (Berardi, 1999). This short-sighted approach caused villages that grew around the schools to be at risk from environmental changes. These initial settlements became permanent when the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed as a “solution” to address native land claims by “extinguishing all claims in exchange for the transfer of title…to twelve regional native corporations and over 200 village-level native corporations” (Hermann & Keene, 2017). In other words, the ANCSA caused historically nomadic and migratory Native Alaskans to officially settle in their fixed geographic location as outlined by the ANCs. Due to the continued impacts of climate change (e.g., erosion, flooding, permafrost thaw, and melting sea ice), the land assigned to many of these Native Alaskan villages can no longer sustain inhabitants. For example, melting arctic sea ice is one of the primary causes of erosion. Historically, the Arctic Ocean has never had such low levels of ice coverage. The problem is exacerbated because since 1900 Alaska has been warming at double the global average. The temperature in Alaska is projected to grow 1.5°F to 5°F (1ºC–3ºC) by 2030 and by 5ºF to 18°F (3ºC–6.5ºC) by 2100 (Bronen, 2013). Climate Change Impacts In Alaska, climate impacts threaten important underpinnings of communities, including the safety of home, transportation, and sanitation infrastructure as well as soil fertility (Hermann & Keene, 2017). They affect subsistence hunting/gathering, upon which Native Alaskans depend. A US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from 2003 concluded that of the 213 Alaska Native villages studied, 31 of these villages face imminent threats to their survival, with 12 planning to relocate (Bronen, 2013). Given the increasing rate of climate change, the number of communities facing imminent threat will grow. Environmental data regarding threatened Alaskan communities and the state’s environmental status are surprisingly limited. Much of the information cited in current climate-related projects dates from reports authored in the early 2000s, a testament to the government apathy in dealing with this existential threat. The threat level experienced by villages due to climate impacts varies by location; nevertheless, the problem requires immediate attention. As conditions worsen, relocations will become more frequent. Any successful relocation framework must be based on up-to-date, reliable data concerning each community at risk. Case studies, such as the one presented in this discussion, offer insight on how to address the problem. Newtok Newtok, the first Alaskan village to begin a relocation due to climate change, is a Yup’ik Native village flanked by the Ninglick and Newtok Rivers. Located near the coast in south-central western Alaska, Newtok has significant shoreline erosion and flooding. The rising level of the Ninglick River, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost, and storm surges cause crumbling of previously stable soil, resulting in land loss up to 83 feet per year (Welch, 2019). This rapid erosion threatens the village’s fresh water source and its school. Newtok’s relocation process when finalized will have taken approximately 30 years. In light of the accelerating pace of climate change, this timeline to move 380 people to Mertarvik, a new village 10 miles upriver, is alarming. By way of background, in 1994, Newtok first considered relocation, but it was not until 2003, that Newtok was able to broker a land exchange agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Feifel & Gregg, 2021). The new site, Mertarvik, is an ideal geologic location because it is well