Alakanuk, Yukon River Delta

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Alakanuk, Yukon River Delta

by | Aug 31, 2019

Alakanuk is a community located 15 miles (24 km) upstream from the Bering Sea at the east entrance of Alakanuk Pass, the major southern channel of the Yukon River, about 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Emmonak, and 162 miles (261 km) northwest of Bethel, Alaska. The area surrounding Alakanuk is part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Alakanuk is a Yup’ik word meaning “wrong way” or “mistakes”, aptly applied to the maze of watercourses leading through the Yukon Delta. The village was first reported by G.R. Putnam of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey in 1899. It was originally settled by a Yup’ik shaman named Anguksuar and his family. A Catholic mission school was built near the village and a post office was established in 1946. In 1948, the school was relocated to St. Mary’s, further upstream on the Yukon River, and many families moved from the old school site to Alakanuk.

Alakanuk is the longest village on the lower Yukon, the community stretches over 3 miles (4.8 km) along the slough banks of Alakanuk Pass. People travel from one end of town to the other by four-wheeler, by boat, or by walking one of two rutted dirt roads. The villagers live mostly in wooden houses built on stilts to protect them from flooding. Read more here and here. Explore more of Alakanuk here:

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