In 1905, the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs built a school at a former seasonal hunting camp on the island and told the people living nearby they could be imprisoned if they did not bring their children to the school to be educated. Rather than risk incarceration and expose their children to the dangers of winter travel, people began to build sod homes and settle in Kivalina.
After the permanent school was established, Christian missionaries arrived. Both the teachers sent to the village and the missionaries forbade the students to speak in the Inupiaq language and ended the traditional storytelling through motion dance.
In 2009 the Episcopal Church called on its 110 dioceses to reflect upon its own history and interactions with indigenous people.