Mary's Igloo is located on the northwest
bank of the Kuzitrin River, on the Seward Peninsula, northeast of Nome.
It lies 40 miles southeast of Teller. It lies at approximately 65░ 09' N
Latitude, 165░ 04' W Longitude (Sec. 17, T004S, R031W, Kateel River
Meridian). The community is located in the Cape Nome Recording District.
The area encompasses 11 sq. miles of land and 1 sq. miles of water.
of "Kauwerak," as the village was originally called, were Inupiaq
Eskimos known as Kauweramiuts. This village was originally located about
15 miles downriver. By 1900, Kauwerak was abandoned, and most Natives
moved to Teller or Nome because of the schools and employment
opportunities. Some settled at the present site, which they called "Aukvaunlook,"
meaning "black whale." During the gold prospecting boom, non-Natives
renamed the village "Mary's Igloo," after an Eskimo woman named Mary,
who welcomed miners, trappers and other newcomers into her home for
coffee. Supplies for the gold fields upriver were transferred onto river
boats here. A post office and store were opened in 1901. By 1910, Mary's
Igloo became a large mixed community of Eskimos, white traders, miners,
innkeepers, missionaries and support crews for barges. The flu epidemic
of 1918-19, and a tuberculosis epidemic two years later, devastated the
community. A Catholic orphanage, "Our Lady of Lourdes Mission," was
opened at nearby Pilgrim Springs, and a Lutheran orphanage was build at
nearby New Igloo. The BIA school closed in 1948 and the Alaska Native
School was closed in 1952 for lack of students. The post office and
store also closed in 1952.