UPDATE 4-Obama's Arctic adventure ends with sinking village, fish spawn

Wed Sep 2, 2015 11:12pm EDT
 
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(Changes dateline to KOTZEBUE, updates with Obama remarks, detail)

By Roberta Rampton

KOTZEBUE, Alaska, Sept 2 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama got a taste of the U.S. Arctic on Wednesday, dropping in to two remote fly-in native villages in a journey the White House hopes will show how climate change is affecting Americans.

Crossing the Arctic Circle, Air Force One flew over Kivalina, pop. 400, a whaling village on a barrier island debating whether to move as melting sea ice raises sea levels.

Obama said Kivalina is a harbinger of hardships other parts of the country could face if global warming goes unchecked.

"I've been trying to make the rest of the country more aware of the changing climate - but you're already living it," Obama told a crowd jammed into a school gym.

It was the culmination of a three-day adventure in which Obama hiked to a glacier and toured majestic fjords by boat, delighting residents in a vast and sparsely populated state often left off presidential itineraries.

"It's the best thing I've ever seen before: the president, in Kotzebue, my hometown!" said Betty Kingeak, 26, who is a cashier and delivery driver at Little Louie's restaurant.

Kingeak said she worries climate change could mean her children will not be able to camp, hunt and fish like she does.   Continued...