Bicameral Task Force Co-Chairs Hear from Panel of Shishmaref, Alaska Natives on Impact of Coastal Erosion on Local Villages
Rep. Henry A. Waxman and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, co-chairs of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, hosted representatives from the Alaskan village of Shishmaref to discuss how climate change is threatening their home. Warming temperatures are contributing to thawing permafrost and melting sea ice around the village’s island, making its shoreline more vulnerable to extreme erosion. As a result, the entire community may have no choice but to relocate.
Shishmaref is an Inupiat Eskimo village located on a small barrier island five miles from mainland Alaska. It is one of more than 30 Alaskan villages that are falling victim to climate change-related coastal erosion, permafrost melt, and flooding. About a dozen of these villages are in the process of relocating to less-vulnerable areas of Alaska.
Opening Statement of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, as prepared for delivery.
STANLEY TOCKTOO is an Inupiat Eskimo from Shishmaref, Alaska. He currently serves as President of the Native Village of Shishmaref and is a member of the Shishmaref Native Corporation. Stanley is a former mayor of Shishmaref and has served on a number of other local and regional boards. Stanley also served on the Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition, which is working to protect the residents from flooding and erosion and move the community onto the mainland. For 19 years, he worked at the Shishmaref School as a bilingual teacher. Stanley and his wife Kara have two children: Harvey and Grace.
FANNIE M. WEYIOUANNA is an Inupiat Eskimo originally from Wales, Alaska and currently living in Shishmaref. Fannie works for the Native Village of Shishmaref as its alternate bingo coordinator and volunteers for Shishmaref Emergency Services in active search and rescues. She previously worked for the Dog Mushers Association. Fannie and her husband Tony have four children: Tony Jr., Daphne Flora, Perry Lee, and Clarence.
TONY WEYIOUANNA is an Inupiat Eskimo from Shishmaref, Alaska. He currently serves as President of the Board of the Shishmaref Native Corporation. Tony previously worked for the Kawerak Transportation Program and provided assistance to the Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition, an effort to relocate Shishmaref to the mainland. He has served on several local and regional boards. Tony helps to raise his family’s small kennel of dogs.
PEGGY HERSRUD is an Inupiat Eskimo raised in Shishmaref Alaska. Peggy works for the Shishmaref Village Council. She previously worked for the telecommunications company GCI, the Dog Mushers Association, and the Shishmaref Tannery.
DEBRA HERSRUD is an Inupiat Eskimo, raised in Shishmaref Alaska. She is a 17-year-old high school senior and plans to pursue a culinary arts degree after graduation. Debra plays basketball and volleyball and loves outdoor activities.