Kipnuk, or “Qipneq” in Yup’ik, is located in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, 85 air miles Southwest of Bethel and four miles inland from the Bering Sea coast. Kipnuk sits on west bank of the Kugkaktlik and gets its name from a nearby bend in the river.
Kipnuk was established around 1922 according to early Bureau of Indian Affairs records, but Yup’ik people have inhabited the area for thousands of years. The community is a traditional village, and maintains a subsistence lifestyle in addition to commercial fishing, government projects and Corporation jobs.
The village does not allow alcohol to be sold or imported into the community. This has played an important role in helping the village maintain its Yup’ik traditions according to Mr. Paul Kiunya Sr., a Kipnuk Elder. He says that young people are coming to the community because of its emphasis on subsistence lifestyles and rules against drinking. The village promotes quiet, traditional living and this is important to many youth who want to embrace their culture.
There are many things that make Kipnuk a special place. An interesting historical fact is the discovery of Mastodon ivory near the village. Mastodon finds are relatively rare since most archeological sites in Alaska contain the remains of Woolly Mammoths. Both animals roamed the tundra between eight and 10 thousand years ago.
Mr. Kiunya says that the people of Kipnuk are the backbone of their strong community. Residents come together for community activities and high school sporting events. He says that the fact that people are making their living, maintaining their customs and practicing their Christian faith keeps the village strong and the people connected to both one another and their culture.
Qemirtalek Coast Corp.
P.O. Box 5070
Kongiganak, AK 99559