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Why Are Thousands of People Trying to Move to a Remote Alaskan Village?

Margaret Lipman
Updated May 17, 2024
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If you’ve been on social media recently, you might have noticed an unusual ad, originally posted by the Karluk Tribal Council, that has now spread widely, attracting around 5,000 responses from people across the United States and around the globe.

The ad asks for two families with three or four children each to move to the remote fishing village of Karluk, on the western side of Alaska’s Kodiak Island. The families will be given relocation expenses, housing, and employment opportunities. They'll have access to the area’s numerous outdoor leisure pursuits, such as fishing and kayaking.

Once a salmon boom town with a population of over 1,100, Karluk is now home to just 37 people. Its school only has two students, a pair of siblings aged 10 and 11. The school lost its state funding in 2018 when the student body dropped below 10. It's now close to losing borough funding, as well, which would force the tribal council to cover the costs or close the building's doors, possibly forever.

Although ensuring that local children have access to education is important, keeping the school doors open has even more importance in remote parts of rural Alaska such as Karluk. The building is essentially a community center, providing services ranging from internet hub to heated space. The cost of paying for two families to relocate to the area would be less expensive than the cost of losing the school building altogether. If that happened, the future of Karluk itself could be in danger, as more people would likely leave the village.

Karluk’s community leaders were surprised and overwhelmed with the number of responses to their unconventional ad. Families who are genuinely interested in moving to Karluk will now submit formal application forms. Ideally, at least one of the successful candidates would be a teacher and his or her family, as this would also solve the related issue of teacher shortages in places such as Karluk.

Who's coming to Karluk?

  • Teaching aide Joyce Jones deserves significant credit for keeping Karluk’s school unofficially open thus far, even with the lack of state funding, and continuing to teach the remaining students.

  • Karluk is far from the only Alaskan community in this position – and perhaps others will follow suit with similar social media overtures. Factors such as disappearing job prospects, climate change, and rising energy costs have put rural communities in peril.

  • Getting to Karluk requires two flights or a 10-hour ferry ride from the mainland.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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