Napaimute is located on the north bank of the Kuskokwim River, easily accessible by riverboat. It is 28 miles east of Aniak in the Kilbuck-Kuskokwim Mountains and over 200 air miles from Anchorage. The word Napaimute means “forest people” in Yup’ik, at one time in the 1900s the area was referred to as “Hoffman's” for Englishman George W. Hoffman’s trading post. As the community of Native and non-Native people grew near the trading post, Hoffman built a territorial school in 1920 and a second school was established in 1926. By the early 1950s most residents had moved away to nearby villages like Aniak.
For many years Napaimute was only used seasonally as a summer fishcamp, but a few individuals identified strongly with the land – their ancestral home – and fought for and received federal recognition as an Alaskan Native Tribe. During the last 25 years, these individuals have worked hard at revitalizing the old village. The vision statement of these people, the Native Village of Napaimute, is “To restore Napaimute to a vital, sustainable community that provides a home for our people and preserves our cultural heritage.” On April 12, 2006, the Kuskokwim Corporation full Board of Directors approved a land transfer of 650 acres directly to the Native Village of Napaimute and a minimum ANCSA 14(c)(3) re-conveyance of slightly less than 100 acres to the State Municipal Land Trustee.
The Napaimute Traditional Council in support of the community plan has built an airfield, a multi-purpose community building, a tribal office, rental cabins and established a business enterprise that includes retail gas sales, convenience store, lodging, equipment rental and a sawmill producing lumber and cabin packages.
Progress has been especially active this winter with the Kuskokwim River in use as an ice road. Community members are excited that this year’s Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race changed its competition route to include traveling through the village.
Construction was recently completed on the Our Lady of the Trees Chapel, and fifteen families are busy developing home sites in the community. With all this work Napaimute is well positioned and well prepared to fully restore their village and enjoy their traditional home.
For more information about the village and people of Napaimute visit napaimute.org.