Unalakleet, Alaska

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aerial view of Unalakleet, taken 2010
Aerial view of Unalakleet, taken 2010
Location of Unalakleet, Alaska
Location of Unalakleet, Alaska
Coordinates: 63°52′44″N 160°47′23″W / 63.87889°N 160.78972°W / 63.87889; -160.78972Coordinates: 63°52′44″N 160°47′23″W / 63.87889°N 160.78972°W / 63.87889; -160.78972
CountryUnited States
Census AreaNome
 • MayorLeona Grishkowsky
 • State senatorDonny Olson (D)
 • State rep.Neal Foster (D)
 • Total4.95 sq mi (12.81 km2)
 • Land2.86 sq mi (7.41 km2)
 • Water2.08 sq mi (5.40 km2)
7 ft (2 m)
 • Total688
 • Estimate 
 • Density243.62/sq mi (94.05/km2)
Time zoneUTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
Area code907
FIPS code02-80660

Unalakleet (/ˈjnələklt/ YOO-nə-lə-kleet; Inupiaq: Uŋalaqłiq IPA: [uŋɐlɑχɬeq]) is a city in Nome Census Area, Alaska, United States, in the western part of the state. At the 2010 census the population was 688, down from 747 in 2000. Unalakleet is known in the region and around Alaska for its salmon and king crab harvests; the residents rely heavily on caribou, ptarmigan, oogruk (bearded seal), and various salmon species. Unalakleet is also known for its aesthetic value, as it resides right next to the Bering Sea, immediately next to a large, clean river (Unalakleet River) and has trees, tundra, and hills behind it.


Unalakleet, an adaptation of the Iñupiaq word "Una-la-thliq",[4] which means "from the southern side". Some Unalakleet residents were mistakenly told it meant "where the east wind blows".[citation needed]

Unalakleet is located at the Norton Sound end of the Unalakleet-Kaltag Portage, an important winter travel route between Norton Sound and the Yukon River. Unalakleet has long been a major trade center between the Athabascans who lived in the interior of Alaska and the Inupiat who lived on the coast. The Russian-American Company built a trading post here at Unalakleet in the 1830s. Sami reindeer herders from Lapland were brought to Unalakleet to teach sound herding practices in 1898. In 1901, the United States Army Signal Corps built a 605-mile (974 km) telegraph line from St. Michael that passed through Unalakleet.

Geography and climate[edit]

Unalakleet is located at 63°52′44″N 160°47′23″W / 63.87889°N 160.78972°W / 63.87889; -160.78972 (63.878907, -160.789680).[5]

Unalakleet is located on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea at the mouth of the Unalakleet River, 148 miles (238 km) southeast of Nome and 395 miles (636 km) northwest of Anchorage. Unalakleet has a subarctic climate with considerable maritime influences. Winters are cold and dry. Average summer temperatures range 47 to 62 °F (8 to 17 °C); winter temperatures range from −40 to 11 °F (−40 to −12 °C). Precipitation averages 14 inches (360 mm) annually, with 41 inches (100 cm) of snow.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13 km2), of which, 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2) of it is land and 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) of it (44.25%) is water.

Climate data for Unalakleet
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −12.3
Average low °C (°F) −19.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 13
Average snowfall cm (inches) 14
Source: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ak9564


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2018697[3]1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]

Unalakleet first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Inuit village of "Oonalakleet."[7] All 100 of its residents were listed as Inuit.[8] It returned in 1890 as "Unalaklik." Of its 175 residents, 170 were Native, 3 were Creole (Mixed Russian & Native) and 2 were White.[9] It returned again in 1900 and in 1910 under that name, though it also gave the alternative name of Unalakleet in the latter census. Beginning in 1920, it returned under its present name, Unalakleet, in every successive census. It was formally incorporated in 1974.

As of the census[10] of 2010, there were 688 people, 225 households, and 172 families residing in the city. The population density was 237.2 people per square mile (91.6/km2). There were 268 housing units at an average density of 92.4 per square mile (36.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 15.0% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 77.3% Native American, 0.1% from other races, and 6.4% from two or more races. 1.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. In 2013 there were 882 people.

There were 224 households out of which 46.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.9% were non-families. 18.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.33 and the average family size was 3.82.

The population is spread out with 37.5% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 26.6% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 114.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 124.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,083, and the median income for a family was $45,625. Males had a median income of $41,964 versus $32,500 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,845. About 12.5% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.3% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.

Mushing influence[edit]

Unalakleet is the first checkpoint on the Norton Sound in the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race 851 miles (1,370 km) from the start in Anchorage. The first musher to reach this checkpoint each year is awarded the Gold Coast Award, which includes $2,500 in gold nuggets. Unalakleet also plays an important role in the Iron Dog snowmobile race.


The Mission Covenant Church of Sweden established a mission in Unalakleet in 1887. The Evangelical Covenant Church later started a boarding high school in 1954. It served students from all over western Alaska until it closed in 1985 due to the changing face of education in the villages of Alaska with the addition of local high schools in all villages.

The district office for Bering Strait School District has been located in Unalakleet since 1983. Serving fifteen village schools, the Bering Strait School District covers approximately 75,000 square miles (190,000 km2).

Unalakleet's local schools include Unalakleet School, a K-12 school that is internally divided into Unalakleet Elementary, Unalakleet Middle School, and Frank A. Degnan High School. The combined school population of Unalakleet Schools is 195, 180 of whom are full or part Alaska Native.

Unalakleet basketball teams have won 6 State titles (3 by Covenant High and 3 by Frank A. Degnan High). Athletics played at the school include cross country running, wrestling, mixed-6 volleyball, cross country ski/biathlon, basketball and Native Youth Olympics.

Unalakleet schools has a Gifted & Talented program. The school's students also participate in Academic Decathlon, Battle of the Books, as well as other academic programs.

Transportation and law[edit]

Unalakleet Airport is a central hub for outlying villages, providing air cargo and air taxi services. It is served by daily airline service to Anchorage by Ravn Alaska along with frequent cargo services by Everts Air Cargo and Northern Air Cargo, as well as daily flights to Nome and outlying villages by Bering Air, Ryan Air and Ravn Connect (under Ravn Alaska).

Unalakleet has an Alaska State Troopers station. As well as a local police department that works with local VPOs and VPSOs. A court system that serves Unalakleet and surrounding villages.


Unalakleet health services are provided by the Anikkan Inuit Iluaqutaat Sub-Regional Clinic, a division of Norton Sound Health Corporation based in Nome, AK. The clinic has permanent staff including medical providers, certified health aides, behavioral health specialists, and a pharmacist. It also hosts specialists in other fields regularly throughout the year.

Restaurants and other Food Services[edit]

Unalakleet boasts several dining options including

1. Peace on Earth. This locally-owned and operated restaurant located in the southern part of the town is well known for its pizzas. Other options include a variety of salads and sandwiches. Peach on Earth frequently hosts music nights with local and visiting artist.

2. Igloo. This restaurant located in the heart of the town offers a selection of burgers and other sandwiches, as well as coffee and mocha beverages.

3. Unalakleet Native Store. A convenience store and gas station located in the northern part of town.

4. Alaska Commercial Company. A full grocery store located in the southern part of town. AC also offers a selection of ready-made meals and DVD rentals.

Notable residents[edit]

William E. Beltz, carpenter and politician, lived in Unalakleet.[11]

Educator and writer Ticasuk Brown was born in Unalakleet and wrote about it extensively in her autobiography.[12][13]

American Ninja Warrior competitor Nick "Eskimo Ninja" Hanson. [14]


  1. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 153.
  2. ^ "2018 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 1, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  4. ^ Community Information Summaries: "Unalakleet." Archived 2007-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Alaska Community Database Online, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. Retrieved on 2007-04-13.
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  7. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=Rr9RAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=%22Agaligamute%22&source=bl&ots=Tzy-F6Dup7&sig=B81GmrTlcKv3jtL_iWMYTwV3FSo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj69sDB-MLUAhXD2T4KHTt1Dc0Q6AEILjAD#v=onepage&q=unalakleet&f=false
  8. ^ http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1880a_v1-17.pdf
  9. ^ http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1890a_v8-01.pdf
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  11. ^ 'Last Rites Held For Beltz Today,' Fairbanks Daily News Miner, November 25, 1960, pg. 1
  12. ^ Carson, Johanna and Bill. "Ticasuk Brown 1st Fairbanks school named for Alaska Native". Youth. Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  13. ^ Gretchen M. Bataille; Laurie Lisa (12 June 2001). Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-0-203-80104-8.
  14. ^ "Alaska's 'Eskimo Ninja'". Anchorage Daily News. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2019-08-06.

External links[edit]