This village will relocate because of climate change

Updated 1506 GMT (2306 HKT) December 29, 2016
11 Sutter Alaska11 Sutter Alaska
1 of 18
Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska -- population 560 -- voted this year to relocate because of climate change. The community is inhabited mostly by indigenous Inupiat people. The coast of their barrier island is thawing and falling into the sea, among other issues. John Sutter/CNN
Shelton and Clara Kokeok are among the residents who say they won't leave the town, about 30 miles from the Arctic Circle. Their son, Norman, shown in the photograph, was killed when he fell through sea ice in 2007. They blame climate change for his death. John Sutter/CNN
The Kokeoks live in a small blue house at the very edge of the barrier island, which is accessible only by plane much of the year. Most of their neighbors' homes were moved back from the coast because of warming. One home fell into the sea. John Sutter/CNN
Seal is a staple of the local diet, and it's often dried and frozen outside for the winter. John Sutter/CNN
Sealskin boots traditionally were used to keep feet warm and dry. John Sutter/CNN
The Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition met in December 2016 to discuss plans for the move and other matters. John Sutter/CNN
It's unclear to those on the relocation committee when -- or if -- the move will happen. The community has no substantial funding for the relocation effort, according to local coordinator Annie Weyiouanna. John Sutter/CNN
Esau Sinnok and his adoptive mother, Bessi Sinnok, reluctantly say they want the village to move. The younger Sinnok says it's the only way to preserve the community's unique indigenous traditions. Climate change will force relocation if locals don't plan it, he said. John Sutter/CNN
Susie Nayokpuk, left, and Hazel Fernandez complained about the heat in late December. "I miss that cold-cold weather," said Fernandez. "It's too weird. It's too warm." Thermometers that week showed temperatures in the 10s and 20s. The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. John Sutter/CNN
Relocating the village would be too expensive, said Percy Nayokpuk, who owns a store in town. Shipping costs would increase if residents moved to the mainland. Still, he said, "I think to deny that there's climate change is wrong. Climate change is happening." John Sutter/CNN
There are two stores in town, both stocked primarily by plane. Many local people live off the land by fishing and hunting. Traditional foods include seal, walrus, caribou and plants picked from the tundra. John Sutter/CNN
Freakishly warm weather has thrown off hunting and fishing seasons, though, making locals somewhat more reliant on consumer goods. Some carry prices many times those found in the mainland United States. John Sutter/CNN
On December 21, the shortest day of the year, the sun rose about 12:45 p.m. and set around 3:20 p.m. Life continues in the dark hours of the day. John Sutter/CNN
Most homes have no running water or sewage. Locals harvest ice from a nearby lake and melt it for drinking water. John Sutter/CNN
The local church is one of the main landmarks in town. There are only a couple of trucks on the island. Most people travel on foot or snowmobile. John Sutter/CNN
Some parents say they don't talk about the pending relocation with their children, fearing it will be too upsetting. Other young people want the village to move, fearing it will become too dangerous as warming continues. John Sutter/CNN
Shishmaref has been located on its barrier island for perhaps 400 years. Locals previously were nomadic, following game across this part of Alaska. John Sutter/CNN
It's unclear what will happen to the local cemetery if and when the town is moved. Norman Kokeok -- who fell through the ice and died in 2007 -- is among those buried there, according to family members. John Sutter/CNN