Shungnak, or Issingnak in Iñupiaq, is located on a bluff rising above the west bank of the Kobuk River, about 10 miles downstream from the village of Kobuk and 150 air miles east of Kotzebue.
Shungnak is a traditional Iñupiat village based on a subsistence way of life. Residents depend on natural food sources including moose, caribou, berries, whitefish, sheefish and ducks. The 1970 census recorded 165 individuals living in Shungnak. By 2000 its population had increased 64 percent to 256. There are currently about 262 Shungnak residents, 94.3 percent of whom are Iñupiaq.
About 50 residents work year-round jobs for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, the City of Shungnak, Maniilaq Association, two private stores and a lodge that caters to sportsmen and visitors to Gates of the Arctic National Park. The Bureau of Land Management offers seasonal firefighting employment to more than 30 residents every year for seasonal firefighting. Shungnak also has a strong arts and crafts industry; residents make and sell finely crafted baskets, masks, mukluks, parkas, hats, and mittens.
There are roughly 77 occupied residential structures in Shungnak. The average family household size is 4.5 persons. The median occupied home value is $131,800. The median rent is $1,225. The Northwest Iñupiat Housing Authority, based in Kotzebue, provides construction services based on HUD contracts.
Residents travel overland by all-terrain vehicle, snowmachine and dog sleds, depending on the season. A dirt road network extends throughout the village and connects to a trail system paralleling the Kobuk River that is used for hunting and inter-village travel.
Aerial View of Shungnak, Alaska
1. New Dumpsite needs to relocate and move further away from the village and it is to close to the grave site.
2. Multi-purpose office building with the City and Tribe for additional office space to support more jobs in the community, centralize the utilities local government office.
3. Housing/Lodge-Over crowding for substandard for arctic conditions and lack of rental housings and lodging for visitors.
4. Cement and Basketball Court- for physical activity for youth and young adults also gives a social interaction for the community.
5. Road to Bomite Road -Poor trail access, Shungnak supplies power to Kobuk.
6. Culture Camp· to continue Inupiaq values for youth a place to learn survival skills from Elders and preserve our cultural traditions.
7. Water Sources· lack of water source and poor water quality during high water.
8. Youth Employment - We need more employment and income for our youth to become more independent.
9. Village Law enforcement to reduce crime and enforce laws including curfew - VPSO
10. New Grave Site as the current grave site is overcrowded and to close to the dumpsite and private property.