Native Village of Shishmaref, Contact
Shishmaref is a traditional Inupiat village with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle.
The original Inuit name for the island of Shishmaref was “Kigiktaq.” In 1816, Lt. Otto Von Kotzebue named the inlet “Shishmarev,” after a member of his crew. Excavations at “Keekiktuk” by archaeologists around 1821 provided evidence of Inuit habitation from several centuries ago. Shishmaref has an excellent harbor, and around 1900 it became a supply center for gold mining activities to the south. The village was named after the inlet, and a post office was established in 1901. The city government was incorporated in 1969. During October 1997, a severe storm eroded over 30 feet of the north shore, requiring 14 homes and the National Guard Armory to be relocated. Five additional homes were relocated in 2002. Other storms have continued to erode the shoreline an average of three to five feet per year on the north shore. In July 2002 residents voted to relocate the community.