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Nulato, Alaska

Nulato is a city in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 336.


Nulato is located at (64.730011, -158.114101).

Nulato is on the west bank of the Yukon River, 53 km (35 miles) west of Galena, in the Nulato Hills. It is across the Yukon River from the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge.The area experiences a cold,continental climate with extreme temperature differences. Temperatures range from zero to the high 70s.Average precipitation is 15.6 inches, with 74 inches of snowfall annually.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 44.8 square miles (116.0 km²), of which, 42.7 square miles (110.7 km²) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.3 km²) of it (4.56%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 336 people, 91 households, and 71 families residing in the city. The population density was 7.9 people per square mile (3.0/km²). There were 119 housing units at an average density of 2.8/sq mi (1.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 5.06% White, 92.86% Native American, 0.60% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. 0.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 91 households out of which 51.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.3% were married couples living together, 27.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.9% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 1.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 41.7% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 25.0% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,114, and the median income for a family was $26,944. Males had a median income of $24,375 versus $25,313 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,966. About 16.7% of families and 18.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.0% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.


In 1838, the Russian explorer Malakov established a trading post a Nulato.

The Kokukuk River people massacred a large part of the population of Nulato in 1851, probably due to a trade dispute.

After the Alaska Purchase, a United States military telegraph line was constructed along the north side of the Yukon River. The gold rush along the Yukon River that began in 1884 brought many new diseases to the area and many people died. Our Lady of Snows Roman Catholic mission and school were opened in 1887 and many people moved to Nulato to be near the school. A measles epidemic and food shortages during 1900 reduced the population of the area by one-third. 1900 was also the peak year for steamboat travel on the Yukon River, with 46 boats in operation. That summer, two boats per day stopped at Nulato to purchase firewood.

Gold prospectors left the Yukon River area for Fairbanks and Nome in 1906. Lead mining began around neighboring Galena in 1919.

Nulato incorporated as a city in 1963. In 1981, housing was built at a new townsite 3 km (2 miles) from present Nulato.

Every other year the people gather in Nulato to celebrate the week long Stick Dance Festival. It is celebrated on the years that it is not held in Kaltag, Alaska. People from all over the Athabascan region gather in the small village to attend the sacred dance that is done to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones and to appreciate the people that helped the family through the mourning process.Nulato residents are predominantly Koyukon Athabascan with trapping and subsistence lifestyle.

Koyukon Athabascans

The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in this area and moved when the wild game migrated. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and Nowitna River. Nulato was a location for trade between the Koyukon and Inupiat of the Kobuk River area before the arrival of Europeans.


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