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Location: 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.
History: Nunivak Island has been inhabited for 2,000 years by the Nuniwarmiut people, or Cup'ik (Choop'ik) Eskimos. The first outside 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 Eskimos 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 an Eskimo 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 the BIA in the 1940s and a slaughterhouse was constructed in 1945. The reindeer were crossed with caribou from Denali Park; the resulting animals are larger and harder to handle than other reindeer in the state. 34 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, or men's community houses. At that time, traditional ceremonies and religious beliefs were still practiced. The 50s and 60s brought considerable change. An airstrip was built in 1957, and the Territorial Guard was formed. Men went to Fort Richardson near 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. A high school was constructed in 1978
Climate: The Bering Sea which surrounds Nunivak Island strongly influences the climate of the island. Foggy and stormy weather are frequent. Average precipitation is 15 inches; annual snowfall is 57 inches. Summer highs average 48 to 54; winter highs run 37 to 44. Extremes have been recorded from 76 to -48.
Latitude: 60d 23m N
Longitude: 60d 23m N
Visitor Attractions: Guided hunts; Wildlife viewing; Photography; Cultural
Contact Organization: City of Mekoryuk
Contact Name: Chester Wesley
Title: Mayor
Street: P.O. Box 29
City: Mekoryuk
State: AK
Zip: 99630
Phone: 907-827-8314
Fax: 907-827-8626
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