Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

65 above sea level, and its volcanic igneous rock formation more effectively withstands erosion. As shown in Figure 1, Mertarvik and Newtok lie on opposite sides of the Ninglick River. The first group of 18 families relocated in 2019, and it is expected that it will take until 2023 to build enough homes to accommodate the entire community. As such, interaction and socialization among tribal officials, teachers, classmates, and families are disrupted (Welch, 2019). This division poses a challenge to the persistence of community and culture. Sustaining continuity in tribal leadership and maintaining and supporting tribal cultures are obstacles faced during a relocation process. Newtok’s story highlights the strain that climate migration places on tribal culture. In Newtok’s case, the tribal council directed the relocation project from inception. Slow progress frustrated many villagers, who blamed the initiating council, leading to the election of new council members in 2012. However, the old council remained in place, claiming that the election was invalid, making it unclear as to which council should be recognized by federal agencies (Enoch, 2015). Ultimately, the BIA legitimized the new council as the governing body (Newtok Village v. Patrick, 2021). This conflict strained the community’s social bonds. Ramona Van Cleve, former tribal liaison for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and an Alaskan with years of experience working with Native Alaskans, described the harmful social effects of these conditions, such as the old council coming to be viewed as “lesser than” the new council. These former leaders no longer enjoyed the traditional respect historically accorded persons of their status. Thus, the challenges faced by tribal villages extend beyond physical obstacles. The social dislocation that accompanies delayed relocation fragments the community when solidarity is most needed. The primary factor delaying relocation is financial. Villages must gather funds from multiple sources. A primary source of funds is grants. In the case of Newtok, the Denali Commission (discussed later) provided $25M toward projects dedicated to relocation, which included the building of 13 homes, the construction of gravel roads, and the establishment of a landfill (Associated Press, 2020). Newtok also received $6.5M from the state legislature through the support of the Alaska Division of Community and Regional Affairs. Newtok utilized FEMA grants of $1.7M to buy threatened Figure 1 Locations of Newtok and Mertarvik, Alaska Source: Ostrander, 2016.