Mertarvik is the site of the new village, about 10 miles across the Ninglick River from Newtok. The plot of land was secured in 2003 through a land exchange with the National Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Newtok Traditional Council obtained both surface and subsurface rights to the land, a very important aspect of the agreement, as the bluffs of northern Nelson Island hide huge deposits of gravel. This gravel will lay the foundation of buildings, roads, and an airstrip, and suggests hope for a sustainable economy in the future.
What does it look like to move an entire village? Nobody knows for sure, but the residents of Newtok have an idea. Over 400 residents will make the trip across the river, by water, ice, or air. They’ll be bringing dogs, suitcases full of belongings, subsistence gear, furniture, and household appliances.
Around the same time as the people, the store, school, medical clinic, and tribal office must also move. Roads must be developed, and a runway built.
Where are they in the grand scheme?
2017 ~ Mertarvik has its official ribbon cutting in August with regional partners and many community members present.
2016 ~ Construction for the Mertarvik Housing Master Plan began.
2012 ~ The access road was completed, and three SIP houses were erected by Newtok residents.
2011 ~ Work began on the Mertarvik Evacuation Center and the gravel quarry opened.
2009 ~ The Mertarvik barge landing was completed.
2007 ~ The first water well was drilled at Mertarvik.
2006 ~ Newtok residents built three homes with funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
For more information on the relocation history and progress visit the Newtok Planning Group Website.