Saturday, March 22, 2008

Introduction to Shishmaref


Shishmaref is a village on Sarichef Island in the Chukchi Sea off of the Seward Peninsula. (Thank you Linda Beyer for: taking this awesome picture, sharing this awesome picture, being an awesome person and teacher, and providing me with a model to emulate in my classroom and my life.) You may not be able to tell from the above picture that the village is on an island because everything, including the surrounding water, is covered in snow, but, trust me, it is definitely an island. The reason the houses and buildings are all close together in a teeny tiny strip is because that's about the size of the teeny tiny sandbar they're built upon. Sarichef Island is a barrier island. I've heard measurements for our island are about 2.5 miles by .5 miles, but I haven't actually used an odometer to verify those measurements.

This is a Satellite Image from Google Maps to prove that Shishmaref is, in fact, on an island:

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This satellite image shows how far we are from the mainland:

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This map shows the approximate location of Shishmaref:


(Many thanks to Seth Ilys for creating this map and posting it here on Wikimedia Commons for all the world to legally share and appreciate.) As you can see, Shishmaref is very far away from better known locations in Alaska like "Anchorage," "Juneau," and "Fairbanks." There are no roads that lead to Shishmaref. You can only get to Shishmaref by snowmachine (in the winter), boat (in the summer), or airplane (preferred option for Steve and me).

Bush Airplane

This is a typical bush airplane used for travel between villages in our region. There is one airline that flies between Shishmaref and Nome (our thriving Metropolis hub) three times every weekday, twice on Saturdays, and once on Sundays. The flights carry passengers, freight, and mail (on our first flight into Shishmaref, Steve and I sat next to cases of top ramen and chips).

Census 2000 Information indicates that there are 562 people in Shishmaref. I'd say a more accurate estimation now is about 600-650 (we have huge (for here) lower elementary classes and lots of babies). There are about 180 kids in our K-12 school. Most of the older grades have about ten students in each graduating class (some bigger, some smaller). The upcoming classes are about twice as big.

You may be wondering how Steve and I ended up on this island, but that's a story for another post... :)

1 comment:

JEM said...

OH. MY. GOSH. I had no idea you were in this deep. Unbelievable. I literally cannot wait to hear all about how you came to live there, all the survival tactics people must employ to live in such an environment, and just your day to day adventures. I am officially hooked.