N U N I V A K I S L A N D, A K
Situated off the far west coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea, Nunivak Island is a massive, 1600 square mile remote sprawl of volcanic tundra and coastal cliffs with a population of only two hundred. There used to be a thousand. Those who remain live in the native village of Mekoryuk on the north coast and face the collision of tradition and modernity in a particularly acute way—yet continue to thrive and persevere as a community.
A number of factors converge to make the island a study of identity in the face of constant transition: a generation of Cup'ig youth navigating two cultures, a tight-knit Christian community combating decades of substance abuse issues, a threatened subsistence lifestyle and unique language, the rapid onset of social media and connected devices, severe climate change, emigration in pursuit of opportunity, and a reindeer slaughterhouse under construction that promises wider economic prosperity.
The series is a work in progress. The images below were taken during three separate visits as part of an ongoing yearlong project.