The relocation and displacement of indigenous peoples due to Western colonization and natural disasters is common throughout the world, with detrimental effects on cultural cohesion, maintenance of tradition, and physical and psychological health. This article examines the special case of the King Island Native Community for whom displacement and relocation happened twice in 20 years: the first a gradual relocation from their island home in the Bering Strait to a shanty town east of Nome, Alaska, in the mid-20th century and the second due to a storm surge that destroyed their homes at East End. While outsiders might predict that leaving their island home was worse than moving to Nome, King Islanders instead remember East End as a place of community closeness and cohesion. This article examines King Islanders' sense of community. We argue that policymakers should allow communities to decide for themselves what the most important elements of their "community" are, especially since climate change may cause displacement and relocation of many communities in Alaska and in the world. For King Islanders, physical proximity is one key element, which we explore here.

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