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Remote Little Diomede perched between past and future

Little Diomede island, foreground, and its Russian counterpart, Big Diomede, are seperated by only 2.4 miles. Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Refrigerator magnets in the Diomede community offices, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Diomede village elder, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Local Diomede crafted art, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A Diomede villager takes a break from digging out his house from under massive amounts of snow. Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Recreational opportunities are limited due to the harsh terrain of Little Diomede island, but villagers do get to ski on the sea ice, even as polar bears roam nearby.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, with the Russian island of Big Diomede visible in the background. Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The village of Diomede, Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Children sled down the steep streets in the village of Diomede on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The Diomede school is undergoing a $16 million renovation.
Loren Holmes photo
A child plays basketball in half of the school gym, while the other half undergoes a renovation. Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Build it and they will come. Don't and they will pass by. This is the trendy, yet sincere, Arctic call-to-action about ports and ice breakers among big thinkers who plan for the future and fear what will happen if others don't. All of the societal issues that get policy makers worked up – economies and commerce, health, transportation, education, environment, national defense – are precariously encased in the vision of an ice-free Arctic bustling with industry and tourism.

In the middle of all of this sits Little Diomede, a village of about 100 people where Ingalikmiut Eskimos still live off the land, hunting polar bears and other marine mammals for food.

Two and a half miles to the west is its foreign sister outpost, Russia's Big Diomede. To the east is mainland Alaska, where the conveniences of thriving economies – hospitals, bigger grocery stores, retail operations and more jobs – await. To the north and south are the Chukchi and Bering Seas, respectively.

Little Diomede borders the Bering Strait where the narrow channel pours into the Arctic. To the south, the strait is bookended by St. Lawrence Island. This thin band separate two countries and is a thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the top of the world.

Read more about Little Diomede's deep roots and where its future lies, here.