King Island Views

The next several miles of road offer views of King Island in clear weather. The island is ideally situated for harvesting the many seals and walruses that pass through the Bering Strait. Native people use the meat and blubber of seals and walrus for food, the oil for cooking and heating, and carve the ivory into household and hunting implements. They would once split and dry the skins for use in construc- tion of their homes and essential umiaqs, large open boats made from skins stretched over a wooden frame.

They also traded walrus skins to other mainland villages for the hides of caribou and furbearers. The King Islanders have long maintained a summer camp at Woolley Lagoon, where they continue to catch and dry salmon and gather greens and berries.

According to Inupiat legend, a huge fish caught up the Kuzitrin River was towed out to sea where it became King Island. Originally called Ukivok, the island once harbored a village of approximately 200 people. Captain Cook gave the island its present name after his lieutenant, James King.

In the early 1960s, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs closed the school, the island residents relocated to Nome, where they maintain a distinct cultural identity to this day. Some still voyage to the island to hunt in spring and pick greens in summer, keeping alive the dream of one day returning to their ancestral home.

Getting There

Coordinates
Latitude: 64.8517
Longitude: -166.11122