On the coast of the Chukchi Sea in the heart of Alaska’s Arctic, Wainwright is home to about 600 residents, primarily Iñupiat people whose ancestors inhabited the region for thousands of years. Many hold strong to traditional values and maintain their ancestral subsistence practices of hunting, fishing, and resource gathering from the land and sea. Rich Iñupiat culture is celebrated throughout the community through dancing, music, arts and other traditions that depend on sharing and cooperation. Many residents are bilingual, speaking both Iñupiaq and English. Elders are revered by the community and pass down treasured cultural and historical traditions through storytelling and lessons for younger generations.
Olgoonik Corporation is the steward for 175,000 acres of land in and around Wainwright. We require land use permits for any entities working on or passing through OC territories.
Modern History: Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Site
Wainwright was strategically important to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) as a radar station in the 1950s, when the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line site was built just outside the village, one key piece of the DEW Line network that stretched across the U.S. and Canadian Arctic. Local village residents helped to staff the site alongside USAF personnel. Olgoonik’s first shareholder President & CEO, Hugh Patkotak, Sr., remembers his father hitching up his dog team for his 6-mile commute to work at the DEW Line. The site was actively manned until 1989, then converted to an unmanned station in 1994. It went out of USAF service in 2008.
An Olgoonik subsidiary company was contracted to decommission and clean up the aging site. Olgoonik later purchased the site from the U.S. government for a fair market price. The corporation now retains surface and subsurface rights to the partially developed 1500-acre site.
The village received the name “Wainwright” from an English naval officer in 1826. He originally named the inlet that separates the village from the Chukchi Sea after his officer, Lt. John Wainwright. Early maps show the village as “Olrona.” Its Iñupiat name was Ulġuniq, or, in English “Olgoonik” (acceptable English pronunciation is Uh-LOO-nick).
Established in 1973 under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), Olgoonik Corporation is the village corporation for Wainwright, Alaska. Alaska is home to 13 regional Alaska Native Corporations and close to 200 village corporations. Operating as a for-profit corporation, Olgoonik is charged with bringing benefits to all of its 1,300+ Iñupiat shareholders and their descendants who are able to trace their direct lineage to original shareholders with ties to Wainwright.
To learn more about what our village has to offer, visit our Wainwright Assets page.