Allakaket is located at the junction of the Alatna and Koyukuk Rivers. Its Native name, Aalaakkaakk’et, means, ‘mouth of the Alatna River.’ It is 190 air miles northwest of Fairbanks. In 1994 a major flood wiped out many homes in the old town, so new homes were built on the hillside two miles back from the river.
In 1906, Archdeacon Stuck established Episcopal mission at Allakaket called St. John’s-in-the-Wilderness. He chose that site because it was the meeting place of the two great rivers and also because it was located on an important trail from the yukon to the mining area around Wiseman. After the mission was established, people moved from Arctic City and the surrounding area to settle near it. These people had moved to the Arctic City area in the late 1800s in three major groups: 1) those from the Kateel and Dolbi, 2) those from South Fork, and 3) those from the lake at Todaaltonh Denh (called in English Lake Todatonten), southwest of Allakaket. Except for the South Fork people, they all spoke the Upper Koyukon dialect. The last South Fork speaker in Allakaket was Joe Williams, who passed away a few years ago.
Allakaket used to host a great number of large and elaborate potlatches. People would come from all the villages down river to hear the speech makers and see the dancers. Potlatches are still an important part of Allakaket life, although most of the fine orators and composers are now gone. Allakaket hosts a big Fourth of July celebration each year which lasts for several days and includes dances and all kinds of games.
Adjacent to Allakaket, on the north bank of the Koyukuk River, is the Inupiaq Eskimo village of Alatna. This village is situated on a bank above the river and has a high bluff behind it. Alatna is considerably smaller than Allakaket and its residents cross the river to use the air strip, grammar school, and Native-owned and operated coooperative store in Allakaket.
Allakaket/Alatna, Hughes, and Huslia joined together to form the Koyukuk River Dog Musher’s Association. These three communities pool their money and each year host a joint carnival in one of the three places.
Well-known people from Allakaket include: Chief Moses, Edward Bergman, Seeza Bergman, Neegidzoos, Joe Williams, Sr.
YKSD Biography Series: Frank Tobuk (Evansville); Oscar Nictune Sr. (Alatna); Moses Henzie (Allakaket)