The History of Napakiak

Napakiak is on the north bank of the Kuskokwim River, 15 miles southwest of Bethel. It is located on a sandbar between the Kuskokwim River and Johnson's Slough. It lies 407 miles west of Anchorage. It lies at approximately 60 41' N Latitude, 162 07' W Longitude (Sec. 17, T007N, R072W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Bethel Recording District. The area encompasses 7 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

Yup'ik Eskimos have lived in this region since 1,000 A.D. The village was first reported in 1878 by E.W. Nelson, although it was downriver, at the mouth of the Johnson River. In 1884, Moravian explorers mention Napakiak as being close to Napaskiak, which suggests that the new village site may have been occupied by that time. By 1910, the village had a population of 166. In 1926, the Moravian Church had a lay worker in the village who began constructing a chapel; funds were raised for construction by the Ohio Moravian Association. It took three years to complete the work, and in August 1929, people came from many villages in the area to attend the dedication ceremony. In 1939, a BIA school began operating, and in 1946 a Native-owned village cooperative store was opened. A post office was established in 1951. The National Guard Armory was built in 1960, and the first airstrip was completed in 1973. The City's primary priority at this time is to relocate all public facilities and homes to a bluff across Johnson's Slough. The sandbar on which the City was built is severely eroding.


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History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development