Located on Nelson Island, the 15th largest island in the U.S., residents of the village of Toksook Bay rely on their surroundings to survive. Subsistence fishing and hunting from the Bering Sea provide the majority of people’s food. In Toksook Bay, there is a close connection to the maritime environment and other villages on the island.
Toksook Bay is the largest community on the island, with a population estimated to be just under 600 people. Including the other two villages, Tununak and Nightmute, around 1,065 people live on Nelson Island. Nelson Island is named after Edward William Nelson, a naturalist who spent time in the area studying the people and natural resources in the late 1800’s. The island is separated from the Alaska mainland by several waterbodies; to the north by the Ningaluk River, to the east by the Kolavinarak River and to the southwest by Etolin Strait. It lies about 115 miles northwest of Bethel and across the water from Nunivak Island.
Yup’ik Eskimos have used the area for thousands of years but the community of Toksook Bay was established as a summer camp in 1964 by residents of Nightmute. The city was incorporated in 1972 and infrastructure was created to support an annual freighter ship, the North Star. A snowmachine trail connects Tununak and Nightmute to Toksook Bay during the winter.
The school, city and tribal councils and commercial fishing are the primary sources of income. Ninety-three residents hold commercial fishing permits.
At the 2012 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Toksook Bay received the Raymond C. Christensen Community Service Award. The community was recognized for its rich culture and history. Through the teaching and guidance of Elders, Toksook Bay residents are proud of their heritage.