2nd Class City
in the Bethel Census Area
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 Department of Labor Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- Community's Judicial District
- Recording District
- Cape Nome
Geography and Climate
- Mekoryuk is at the mouth of Shoal Bay on the north shore of Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea. The island lies 30 miles off the coast. It is 149 air miles west of Bethel and 553 miles west of Anchorage. Mekoryuk is part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
- The Bering Sea, which surrounds Nunivak Island, strongly influences the climate of the island. Foggy and stormy weather are frequent. Average annual precipitation is 15 inches; annual snowfall averages 57 inches. Summer highs average 48 to 54 °F; winter highs run 37 to 44 °F. Extremes have been recorded from 76 to -48 °F.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
History and Culture
- Nunivak Island has been inhabited for 2,000 years by the Nuniwarmiut people, who are Cup'ik (Choop'ik) Eskimos. The first non-Native contact was in 1821 by the Russian American Company, who recorded 400 people living in 16 villages on the island. A summer camp called "Koot" was noted at the current site of Mekoryuk in 1874. In 1891, Ivan Petroff found 702 Cup'iks in 9 villages, including 117 people at "Koot." An epidemic in 1900 decimated the population, leaving only four surviving families in the village. In the 1930s, the Evangelical Covenant Church was built by a Native missionary, followed by a BIA school in 1939. People moved to the village from other areas of the island to be near the school. Reindeer were introduced for commercial purposes in 1920 by an Eskimo-Russian trader. The operation was purchased by BIA in the 1940s, and a slaughterhouse was constructed in 1945. The reindeer were crossed with caribou from Denali Park, and the resulting animals are larger and harder to handle than other reindeer in the state. Thirty-four musk-ox from Greenland were transferred to the island in 1934 in an effort to save the species from extinction. Today, the musk-ox herd numbers around 500, and calves from this herd have been relocated and introduced to other areas of Alaska. A post office was opened in 1940. In the 1940s, the women lived in semi-subterranean sod houses and the men stayed at one or more "kasigi", men's community houses. At that time, traditional ceremonies and religious beliefs were still practiced. The 1950s and 60s brought considerable change. An airstrip was built in 1957, and the Territorial Guard was formed. Men went to Fort Richardson in Anchorage for training. By this time, Mekoryuk was the only permanent community on the island. During this time, many families moved to Bethel to be near the high school, returning during late spring for fishing and sea mammal hunting. The city was incorporated in 1969.
- This Cup'ik Eskimo village maintains reindeer and musk ox herds and practices a subsistence lifestyle.
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Native Village of Mekoryuk
- Local Option Restrictions
- Ban sale, importation, and possession of alcohol.
Facilities, Utilities, and Health Care
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Water & Sewer Flush/Haul, Watering Points, Washeteria, Electric (AVEC), Landfill, Health Clinic, Police, Volunteer Fire/Rescue, Public Safety Office, Community Hall,Roads, Breakwater/Harbor/Dock, Village Wellness Counselor, Elders/Youth Safety Program, Equipment Rental, Room rental
- Mekoryuk relies heavily on air transportation for passenger, mail, and cargo service. A state-owned 3,070' long by 75' wide gravel runway allows year-round access. A breakwater protects the shoreline from the Bering Sea waves. Barges deliver goods from Bethel once or twice each summer. Boats, snowmachines, and ATVs are used for travel within the community.
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection
- Community's Senate District
- Community's House District