The Bering Strait region is located in Northwest Alaska, just south of the Arctic Circle. The region is home to three culturally distinct groups of Eskimo people.The Inupiaq reside on the Seward Peninsula as well as the King and Diomede Islands. The Central Yupik primarily reside in the villages south of Unalakleet. The Siberian Yupik live on St. Lawrence Island, and are closely related culturally and linguistically to the Chukotka people of the Russian Far East. The Eskimo people have lived in this region as an identifiable culture for at least 4,000 to 6,000 years; the earliest documented evidence of human habitation dates back 10,000 years. Settlements concentrate along the coast and river system, as the sea was and is the principal focus of human activities.
Twenty tribal governments represent the 20 villages in the region. Of these villages, 16 are permanently inhabited. The IRA or traditional Council in each village appoints one representative, normally the Council President, to the Board of Directors. The councils themselves are the legal remnants of the Native traditional governments that provided social order prior to contact with non-Natives. These governments were subsequently reorganized and recognized as tribal governments under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
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