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.
Brevig Mission is located at the mouth of Shelman Creek on Port Clarence, 5 miles northwest of Teller and 65 miles northwest of Nome. Brevig Mission is located in the Cape Nome Recording District. The area encompasses 2.6 sq. miles of land and 0.1 sq. miles of water.
The Kauwerak Eskimos in this area lived in migratory communities in pursuit of hunting and fishing grounds and traded furs with Siberia, Little Diomede, and King Island. They formed alliances with Wales, Little Diomede, and others for protection.
The “Teller Reindeer Station” opened near this site in 1892; it was operated by the U.S. Government until 1900. The Norwegian Rev. Tollef L. Brevig, a pioneer Lutheran missionary, began serving the reindeer station on August 1, 1894, as pastor and teacher to the Laplanders and Eskimos.
Rev. Brevig traveled between villages by dog team along the beach and often performed services in Nome. A Lutheran mission was constructed at the present site in 1900, and the village became known as “Teller Mission.” The mission was given 100 reindeer on a five-year loan from the government. By 1906, the government’s role had diminished, and the mission became dominant.
In 1963, the Brevig Mission post office was established. The city was incorporated in 1969. Reindeer were the economic base of this community until 1974, but the industry has since declined.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community — the Native Village of Brevig Mission. Brevig Mission is predominantly Inupiat Eskimo with a subsistence lifestyle. The sale, importation, and possession of alcohol is banned in the village.
Source: State of Alaska DCRA
NATIVE VILLAGE OF BREVIG MISSION
- P.O. Box 85039
Brevig Mission, AK 99785