Tribal Prophecy Becoming Dire Reality in Alaska

June 19, 2019

Elders in the Nunakauyarmiut Tribe once predicted ‘it won’t get cold like it used to.’ Now record warmth has arrived in tiny Toksook Bay—along with troubling other changes.

A prophecy handed down over the generations by Noah Lincoln’s elders in the Nunakauyarmiut Tribe seemed to be coming true at 4 a.m. Monday.

The inside of his rural Alaska home remained stifling hot even after he jumped up from his bed to open all the windows.

“Our elders used to say someday the winter won’t come anymore, it won’t get cold like it used to,” Lincoln told The Daily Beast later that day. “I used to hear it growing up, all my life.”

Noah Lincoln and his wife, Kristy Lincoln, live with their six children in Toksook Bay, population 603. That is the locale chosen for its remoteness to be the official starting place for the latest U.S. Census. The record warm weather there in recent months—ranging up into the 60s this week‚makes you wonder if the town is also seeing the start of what was foretold by Nunakauyarmiut lore that Lincoln heard as a child.

“I used to hear it growing up,” he said “Over the generations, they used to predict this, and now it’s coming to pass.”

He is modern enough to have what he terms a Native American humor Facebook page with his wife called “Noah loves Kristy.” Yet as he spoke to The Daily Beast from a home that remained uncomfortably hot even with the doors and windows open, he seemed in genuine wonder of his forebears’ gift of prophecy.

“I don’t know how they knew,” he said. “But they knew.”

He was only partly jesting when he said, “Someday we might need air conditioners.”

He noted that air conditioning is not something you hear people talking about in Toksook Bay.

“I’m talking about it because it’s really hot,” he said.

He added, “At least we’re saving up on the stove oil.”

His two younger sons are aged 2 and 4, and he watches them starting life in a native land being transformed.

“You can see them sweating at night,” Lincoln said.

“Four weeks ago fishing, I was hauling in nets and I could work without rubber gloves.”

— Noah Lincoln

He reported that the only cold snap this year was a single week in January. The rest of the month and all of February were like April. The ice on the bay is usually there until the end of May, but this year it disappeared two months early.

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