2nd Class City
in the Nome Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (gam' bull); a.k.a. Sivuqaq
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Cape Nome
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Geography and Climate
- Gambell is located on the northwest cape of St. Lawrence Island, 200 miles southwest of Nome, in the Bering Sea. The city is 36 miles from the Chukotka Peninsula, Siberia.
- Gambell has a maritime climate with continental influences in the winter. Wind and fog are common, and precipitation occurs 300 days per year. Average annual precipitation is 15 inches, with 80 inches of snowfall. The Bering Sea freezes during mid-November, with break-up at the end of May. Average summer temperatures are 34 to 48 °F; average winter temperatures are -2 to 10 °F. Extremes from -30 to 65 °F have been recorded.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- St. Lawrence Island has been inhabited intermittently for the past 2,000 years by Yup'ik Eskimos. In the 18th and 19th centuries, over 4,000 people inhabited the island in 35 villages. Sivuqaq is the Yup'ik name for the village and for the island. The city was renamed for Mr. and Mrs. Vene C. Gambell, missionaries to the town. A tragic famine between 1878 and 1880 decimated the population. In 1900, reindeer were introduced to the island for local use, and in 1903 President Roosevelt established a reindeer reservation. During the 1930s, some residents moved to Savoonga to establish a permanent settlement there. The city was incorporated in 1963. When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971, Gambell and Savoonga decided not to participate and instead opted for title to the 1.136 million acres of land in the former St. Lawrence Island Reserve. The island is jointly owned by Savoonga and Gambell.
- The isolation of Gambell has helped to maintain their traditional St. Lawrence Yup'ik culture, their language, and their subsistence lifestyle, which is based on marine mammals. Residents are almost completely bilingual. Walrus-hide boats are still used to hunt.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Native Village of Gambell
- Local Option Restrictions
- Ban sale, importation, and possession of alcohol.
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Piped Water, Piped Sewer, Washeteria, Landfill, Electric (AVEC), Health Clinic, Qernughvik Bingo/Pull Tabs, Police (VPOs), State-funded Public Safety Officer (VPSO), Volunteer Fire, Public Safety Building, City Hall, Streets
- Gambell's isolated location on an island with no seaport results in heavy dependence upon air transport. The state-owned airport has an asphalt runway. Regular flights from Nome and charters from Unalakleet are available. Freight is shipped by barge from Anchorage. Winter transportation on St. Lawrence Island primarily consists of snow-machine travel over packed snow. However, these routes often traverse through treacherous landscapes that offer little or no points of reference during bad weather. Tripods were installed in 2013 marking the winter routes between Gambell and Savoonga, as well as other points on the southern part of St. Lawrence Island. An approximately 7 mile evacuation road was completed in 2013 which extends southward from the village of Gambell.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District