The abandoned village of Ukivok clings precariously to the edge of a cliff in one of the most bleak and inhospitable corners of the world. Situated on King Island, Alaska, in the Bering Sea, Ukivok has been abandoned since the last settlers moved to the mainland around 1970. Just one mile wide and 40 miles west of Cape Douglas on the Alaskan mainland, the island was the winter home of around 200 Inupiat people (known as the Aseuluk). These are the Inuit people of Alaska’s Northwest Arctic and North Slope boroughs and the Bering Straits region.
The Aseuluk were subsistence hunters and whalers, spending their winters on King Island and summers in Nome on the mainland, where they have remained permanently for almost the last 40 years. Today the discovery of oil has added to their revenue source, although there has been growing concern that climate change has impacted their more traditional pursuits.
In 2005 and 2006 the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a research project enabling some King Island natives to return home, a number of whom had not revisited the island, discovered by Captain James Cook in 1778, for 50 years.
Interestingly, it appears that information about the stilt village of Ukivok remains hidden beneath a shroud of mystery seemingly as thick as the mist that covers the island. This is, no doubt, a testament to just how isolated this old settlement is. (Images courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce. Click images for more information.)
Keep reading – explore 5 Abandoned Settlements at the Ends of the Earth, and visit 8 Ghost Towns and Abandoned Settlements of Antarctica.