The village of Kochuk, later renamed Shungnak, was settled in the 1920s. The original village of Kobuk, settled in 1899 and situated about 10 miles upstream, was largely abandoned due to flooding. A few residents remain at Kobuk. The name “Shungnak” is derived from the Eskimo term “issingnak,” which means jade, a stone found in the surrounding area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.6 square miles (25 km2), of which 8.4 square miles (22 km2) is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) of it (13.10%) is water.
The town is located about 150 miles east of Kotzebue.
As of the census of 2000, there were 256 people, 56 households, and 51 families residing in the city. The population density was 30.6 people per square mile (11.8/km²). There were 64 housing units at an average density of 7.7 per square mile (3.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 5.47% White and 94.53% Alaska Native.
Of those 56 households, 66.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 8.9% were non-families. In addition, 7.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 1.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.57 and the average family size was 4.53.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 48.4% under the age of 18; 8.6% from 18 to 24; 23.8% from 25 to 44; 12.9% from 45 to 64; and 6.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 19 years. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.1 males.
About 21.7% of families and 35.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 46.2% of those under the age of eighteen and none of those 65 or over.
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