Emmonak, Yukon River Delta

Emmonak, Yukon River Delta

by | Jul 13, 2019

Emmonak is a community located in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge at the mouth of the Yukon River, about 10 miles (16 km) east from the Bering Sea, on the north bank of Kwiguk Pass. It lies 120 air miles (194 km) northwest of Bethel and 490 air miles (790 km) from Anchorage, Alaska. Emmonak is one of the last permanent settlements along the Yukon River before it enters the Bering Sea.

The village was originally called “Kwiguk”, a common Yup’ik word meaning “big stream”. Villagers call themselves “Kuigpagmuit” or “people from the Yukon River”. The original settlement was 1.4 miles (2.2 km) south of its present location and was first reported by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1899. A post office was established there in 1920. Later, commercial fishing became a major industry in the village and the Northern Commercial Company built a cannery. In 1964, the cannery was washed away by floods and as a result of increased flooding and erosion, the village was relocated in 1964-65. The new location was named Emmonak, which means “black fish”. Emmonak was erroneously called Emanguk on early U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey maps.

The Emmonak Corporation was established on December 18, 1971, with 478 shareholders when the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was enacted into law. The village currently has 762 residents of which 97% are Yup’ik. The Emmonak Corporation owns the Emmonak Company Store and the Emmonak Tank Farm as well as about 400 acres (162 ha) of land. The corporation also is the surface estate owner of 183,674 acres (74,330 ha) of land selected within the Yukon Delta National Refuge Boundary. As a retailer for firearms, fuel sales, general merchandise, and groceries the Corporation is an important and vital part of the community. Read more here and here. Explore more of Emmonak here:

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