The History of Shungnak

Shungnak is located on the right bank of the Kobuk River about 150 miles east of Kotzebue. The original settlement was 10 miles further upstream at Kobuk. It lies at approximately 66 52' N Latitude, 157 09' W Longitude (Sec. 09, T017N, R008E, Kateel River Meridian). The community is located in the Kotzebue Recording District. The area encompasses 9 sq. miles of land and 1 sq. miles of water.

Founded in 1899 as a supply point for mining activities in the Cosmos Hills, this Inupiat Eskimo village was forced to move in the 1920s because of river erosion and flooding. The old site, 10 miles upstream, was renamed Kobuk by those who remained there. The new village was named "Kochuk," but later reverted to Shungnak. This name is derived from the Eskimo word "Issingnak," which means jade, a stone found extensively throughout the surrounding hills.


To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online


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