The History of Unalakleet

Unalakleet is located on Norton Sound at the mouth of the Unalakleet River, 148 miles southeast of Nome and 395 miles northwest of Anchorage. It lies at approximately 63 52' N Latitude, 160 47' W Longitude (Sec. 03, T019S, R011W, Kateel River Meridian). The community is located in the Cape Nome Recording District. The area encompasses 3 sq. miles of land and 2 sq. miles of water.

Archaeologists have dated house remnants along the beach ridge from 200 B.C. to 300 A.D. The name Unalakleet means "place where the east wind blows." Unalakleet has long been a major trade center as the terminus for the Kaltag Portage, an important winter travel route connecting to the Yukon River. Indians on the upper river were considered "professional" traders who had a monopoly on the Indian-Eskimo trade across the Kaltag Portage. The Russian-American Company built a post here in the 1830s. In 1898, reindeer herders from Lapland were brought to Unalakleet to establish sound herding practices. In 1901, the Army Signal Corps built over 605 miles of telegraph line from St. Michael to Unalakleet, over the Portage to Kaltag and Fort Gibbon.


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