is a traditional Yup'ik Eskimo village, with an active subsistence
lifestyle. Relative isolation from outside influences has enabled the
area to retain its traditions and customs, more so than other parts of
Alaska. The sale and importation of alcohol is banned in the village.
Newtok is located on the Ninglick River north of Nelson Island in the
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region, 94 miles northwest of Bethel. It lies at
approximately 60.942780 North Latitude and -164.629440 West Longitude.
The people of Newtok share a heritage with Nelson Island communities;
their ancestors have lived on the Bering Sea coast for at least 2,000
years. The people from the five villages are known as Qaluyaarmiut or
"dip net people." Only intermittent outside contact occurred until the
1920s. In the 1950s, the Territorial Guard found volunteers from Newtok
while they were traveling to Bethel. Tuberculosis was a major health
problem during this period.
In the late 1950s, the village was relocated from Old Kealavik ten
miles away to its present location to escape flooding. A school was
built in 1958, although high school students were required to travel to
Bethel, St. Mary's, Sitka, or Anchorage for their education. This was
often their first exposure to the outside, and students returned with a
good knowledge of the English language and culture. A high school was
constructed in Newtok in the 1980s.
The city was incorporated in 1976, but it was dissolved on January
28, 1997. Due to severe erosion, the village has started to relocate to
a new site called Taqikcaq, approximately 5 miles away on Nelson Island.
One study estimated that the relocation could cost up to $130 million,
or about $350,000 per resident.