Native Village of Koyuk, Contact
Koyuk is a traditional Unalit and Malemiut Eskimo village, where people speak a dialect of Inupiaq. Residents maintain a subsistence lifestyle, including caribou hunting.
The site of “Iyatayet” on Cape Denbigh to the south has traces of human habitation that are 6,000 to 8,000 years old. Villagers were historically nomadic. Lt. Zagoskin of the Russian Navy noted the village of “Kuynkhak-miut” here in 1842-44. A Western Union Telegraph expedition in 1865 found the village of “Konyukmute.” Around 1900, the present townsite, where supplies could easily be lightered to shore, began to be populated. Two boomtowns grew up in the Koyuk region around 1914: Dime Landing and Haycock. The “Norton Bay Station,” 40 miles upriver, was established to supply miners and residents in 1915. In addition to gold, coal was mined a mile upriver to supply steam ships and for export to Nome. The first school began in the church in 1915; the U.S. Government built a school in Koyuk in 1928. The city was incorporated in 1970.