Selawik is located at the mouth of the Selawik River where it empties into Selawik Lake, about 90 miles east of Kotzebue. It lies 670 miles northwest of Anchorage. The City is near the Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, a key breeding and resting spot for migratory waterfowl. Selawik is located in the Kotzebue Recording District. The community is located in the transitional climate zone. Temperatures average -10 to 15 during winter; 40 to 65 during summer. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -50 to 83. Snowfall averages 35 to 40 inches, with 10 inches of total precipitation per year. The Selawik River is navigable from early June to mid-October.
Lt. L.A. Zagoskin of the Imperial Russian Navy first reported the village in the 1840s as “Chilivik.” Ivan Petroff counted 100 “Selawigamute” people in his 1880 census. Selawik is an Inupait name for a species of fish. Around 1908, the site had a small wooden schoolhouse and church. The village has continued to grow and has expanded across the Selawik River onto three banks, linked by bridges. Selawik incorporated as a First Class City in 1974, but in 1977, changed to a Second Class City government.
Selawik is an Inupiaq community active in traditional subsistence fishing and hunting. The sale or importation of alcohol is banned in the village.
Inhabitants of Selawik subsist mainly on whitefish, sheefish, caribou, moose, ducks, ptarmigan and berries. Occasionally, bartered seal and beluga whale supplement the diet. The primary employers in the community include the school, the City, the IRA, Maniilaq and three grocery stores. Handicrafts are made and sold locally and at gift shops in larger cities. Seasonal work is also found outside of Selawik at the Red Dog Mine, BLM firefighting or in lighterage operations. Four residents hold commercial fishing permits.
Borough Assembly Member
P.O. Box 102 Selawik, Ak 99770