Shaktoolik, Norton Sound

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Shaktoolik, Norton Sound

by | Sep 19, 2020

Shaktoolik is a small community now located on a spit forming Shaktoolik Bay, on the eastern shore of Norton Sound, about 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Golovin and 35 miles (56 km) north-northwest of Unalakleet, Alaska. Shaktoolik was the first Malemiut native settlement on Norton Sound, occupied as early as 1839.

Shaktoolik Bay is a lagoon about 22 miles (35 km) southwest of Christmas Mountain, fed by the Shaktoolik River that flows for 92 miles (148 km) from the Nulato Hills. The name is derived from the native Malemiut name for the bay first reported on September 16, 1778, by Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy, as “Chacktoole Bay”. It was called “Shakhtolik” in 1842 by Lieutenant L. A. Zagoskin of the Imperial Russian Navy.

The management of reindeer herds was started in the Shaktoolik area around 1905 when the village was located about 6 miles (10 km) up the Shaktoolik River. The village was moved to the mouth of the Shaktoolik River in 1933 to facilitate access by sea and it was relocated again in 1967 to its present location. The Shaktoolik economy is based on subsistence, with some part-time wage earnings in commercial fishing, city administration, and the school. Reindeer herding still provides some income and meat, but the primary subsistence foods include fish, crab, moose, beluga whale, caribou, seals, and birds. Shaktoolik is one of several Alaskan coastal communities threatened by erosion and flooding related to a longer ice-free season, and the increasing frequency and magnitude of winter storms in the Bering Sea. Read more here and here. Explore more of Shaktoolik and the Norton Sound coast here:

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