Alakanuk, Alaska

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Alakanuk (ah-LUCK-uh-nuck) (Alarneq in Central Yup'ik) is a 2nd-class city in the Wade Hampton Census Area of the Unorganized Borough in the western part of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 652.


Location and Climate

Alakanuk is located at 62.688890° North, 164.61528° West (Sec. 14, T030N, R082W, Seward Meridian)[2]. Alakanuk is located in the Bethel Recording District.

Alakanuk is located at the east entrance of Alakanuk Pass, the major southern channel of the Yukon River, 15 miles (24 km) from the Bering Sea. It is part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. It lies 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Emmonak, approximately 162 miles (261 km) northwest of Bethel. It is the longest village on the lower Yukon - the development stretches over a 3-mile (4.8 km) area along the Pass. Approximately 25 homes along the bank are being threatened by erosion.

The climate of Alakanuk is subarctic, averaging 60 inches (1,500 mm) of snowfall and 19 inches (480 mm) of total precipitation per year. Temperatures range from between -25 to 79 °F (26 °C). Heavy winds are frequent during the fall and winter. The Yukon River is used as an ice road during freeze-up, from November through May.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.0 square miles (106.2 km²), of which, 32.4 square miles (83.8 km²) of it is land and 8.7 square miles (22.5 km²) of it (21.14%) is water.

History and culture

Alakanuk is a Yup'ik word meaning "wrong way" or "mistake village", aptly applied to a village on this maze of watercourses. 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. A post office was established in 1946. In 1948, the school was relocated to St. Mary's, and many families moved from the old school site to Alakanuk. It incorporated as a second-class city in 1969.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community—the Village of Alakanuk.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 652 people, 139 households, and 118 families residing in the city. The population density was 20.2 people per square mile (7.8/km²). There were 160 housing units at an average density of 4.9/sq mi (1.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 1.99% White, 95.40% Native American, 0.15% Asian, and 2.45% from two or more races.

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