The Selawik area is known in Iñupiaq as Akuliġaq, which translates into English as “where the river meets together,” and Siiļvik, or “where the sheefish spawn.” The current village of Selawik is located at the mouth of the Selawik River where it flows into Selawik Lake, about 90 air miles east of Kotzebue. Selawik is spread across three of the multi-channeled river mouth that are linked by structural bridges. Selawik is within the 2.15 million acre Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, a crucial breeding and resting spot for migratory waterfowl that straddles the Arctic Circle.
The Selawik economy is based on cash and traditional subsistence. The village is located amidst some of the richest fishing and hunting grounds in Alaska. Caribou and moose are plentiful, along with a wide variety of freshwater fish, including Arctic Char, sheefish, grayling and northern pike. Seasonal firefighting jobs are available with the Bureau of Land Management. Crowley Marine hires a few Selawik residents for part-time lighterage work in the summer. Three residents hold commercial salmon fishing permits. Local hunters sell furs, and Selawik artisans create bone and ivory carvings and traditional masks that are sold in gift shops throughout Alaska.
There are no automobiles in Selawik. Four-wheelers (ATVs), motorcycles and snowmachines are used extensively for local and regional ground transportation. Historic trails that parallel the Selawik River and other nearby waterways are used for inter-village travel and subsistence activities. In winter months, Selawik residents also use the river itself as a snowmachine route.
Aerial View of Selawik, Alaska
1. Rehabilitate existing board roads for safety and widening for safe ATV passing and walking.
2. New health clinic in Selawik.
3. Build a gravel road from the Spud Farm to Selawik for gravel source access, Maniilaq treatment camp access and community land development options.
4. Obtain shared use of the National Guard Army Buildings for a one-shop-stop public safety building and services center that is staffed with a dispatcher 24/7.
5. Renovate the old multi-purpose building with an O&M plan for (a) safe, clean community hall and training facility, (b) teen center for after school support, (c) Boys and Girls Club, and (d) community gym/workout space.
6. New water intake system per the 2005 feasibility study to improve the water quality and cleanliness.
7. Airport expansion with DOT.
8. Disaster preparedness plan for community readiness physically and mentally -e.g. floods, fires, earthquakes, etc..
9. Build and maintain a building for senior housing and home care.
10. Construct new affordable homes in Selawik.
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