Kobuk

Aerial view of Kobuk, the airstrip, and the Kobuk River in the summer. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Aerial view of Kobuk, the airstrip, and the Kobuk River in the summer. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Kobuk (Laugviik in the Inupiaq language)is located on the north bank of the Kobuk River, about ten miles upriver from Shungnak and 128 air miles northeast of Kotzebue. The residents of Kobuk are Kuuvangmiut Inupiat Eskimos. The community that is now Kobuk was originally called Shungnak and beginning in 1899 was a supply point for mining activities in the Cosmos Hills, a mountain range to the north. With the construction of a trading post, school, and Friends mission local people began to settle there. Due to river erosion and flooding, this village was relocated in the 1920s to a new site ten miles downstream, and called "Kochuk." It is what is now known as Shungnak. The few people remaining at the original village renamed it Kobuk. The city of Kobuk was incorporated in 1973, but also is under the jurisdiction of the Northwest Arctic Borough, and has a federally recognized tribe. Ice jams on the river can cause high water in the spring during breakup, so the community is frequently threatened by flooding. In May 1973, a particularly severe flood covered the entire village. With limited opportunities for wage employment, the community remains dependent upon subsistence activities. Kobuk is the smallest village in the Northwest Arctic Borough with approximately 148 residents in the 2011 census.

Elders from Shungnak, with ties to Kobuk, visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks on November 14-17, 2011.

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