Nora Jane Kaveolook Burns
"I am the current Mayor of Kaktovik. This is the third term that the Council has selected me. I have been in the Council since 1992 or ‘93, when my girls were small. I grew up here for the first 12 years of my life. My dad was a teacher and he transferred to Barrow in 1969. I finished high school in Barrow, then went to college, and then went back to Barrow. I met my husband in ‘88 and then we moved here.
We are working on a lot; promoting healthy communities, polar bear patrol, tourism, making sure there are monies to run the city. It’s getting harder and harder because the funds are getting less and less. We are working to be sustainable and protecting the sea animals that we have. So we are against off-shore drilling, that’s where all of our fish that we harvest come from. We are working to protect our way of life up here and better education for our children.
Tourism is a good and bad thing up here for the boat guiders. They make money, but it’s just for a short span of time. It’s seasonal. But when they start coming in in August, September, and October, the flights are always booked, and you have to book your flights way out just to make sure you have a seat. We are working on making it better. There is just one airline here, and when elders have medical needs, it takes them longer to come home when the flights are all booked. Cruise ships are talking about trying to come here too. And we have to tell them that there’s not enough room here to accommodate everybody, there is just enough room for the ones that are already here.
Our island is shrinking; on the north shore, on the bluffs, you can see where the ocean is breaking the permafrost. Even our tundra is melting, that’s our next big problem. It’s happening every summer. You have to level your house, but they don’t have the equipment to level their their own homes to keep them straight." — Nora Jane Kaveolook Burns is Inupiaq and lives in Kaktovik, Alaska.
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