Emmonak Alaska

A Native American village about 400 miles west of Anchorage

The fishing village of Emmonak Alaska is a Native American village about 400 air miles northwest of Anchorage. The village is located near the west coast of Alaska accessible only by air or the Yukon river. Emmonak (Imangaq in Central Yup’ik) is primarily made up of Yup’ik Eskimos living a subsistence lifestyle. The Yup’ik Eskimos of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area in Western Alaska live in an environment that is very different from our stereotyped images of a barren, icy, harsh existence. They live on a mostly flat, marshy plain crisscrossed by many waterways, which the Yup’ik used in place of roads. Emmonak residents subsist on fish, seals, waterfowl, and moose.


Emmonak Climate:

Because this region is below the Arctic Circle, temperatures are more moderate and hunting and fishing continued most of the year. Temperatures can range from -80F in winter to 80F in summer.


In the city the population was spread out with 44.1% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 5.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 116.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.4 males.

The median income for a household in Emmonak Alaska was $32,917, and the median income for a family was $38,750. Males had a median income of $23,750 versus $18,542 for females. The per capita income for Emmonak Alaska was $9,069. About 16.4% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.9% of those under age 18 and 9.1% of those age 65 or over.
Emmonak Alaska

Emmonak Alaska History:

Emmonak was originally called “Kwiguk,” a Yup’ik word meaning “big stream.” Villagers call themselves “Kuigpagmuit,” or “people from the Yukon River.” The original settlement was 1.4 miles south of its present location, and was first reported by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1899. A post office was established there in 1920. Later, commercial fishing became a major industry in the village and the northern Commercial Company built a cannery. In 1964, the cannery was washed away by floods. Due to increasing flooding and erosion, Emmonak was relocated 1.4 miles north of Kwiguk in 1964-65. The new location was renamed Emmonak, which means “black fish.”.


Emmonak Alaska is about 400 air miles northwest of Anchorage.

Emmonak teacher Judith Michaels:

Michaels talks about the potential of her Yupik Eskimo students.