Koyukuk, also known as Koyukuk Station, is a Koyukon Athabaskan village located on the Yukon River near the mouth of the Koyukuk River, 30 miles west of Galena, 16 miles northeast of Nulato, and 290 air miles west of Fairbanks. It lies adjacent to the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge and the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge.
The Koyukon Athabaskan traditionally had spring, summer, fall, and winter camps and moved as the wild game migrated. Koyukuk began as one of a dozen such summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk and Nowitna Rivers.
A military telegraph line was constructed along the north side of the Yukon around 1867, and Koyukuk became the site of a telegraph station. A trading post opened around 1880, just before the gold rush of 1884-85. The population of Koyukuk peaked around this time at approximately 150. A post office operated from 1898 to 1900. Gold seekers left the Yukon after 1906, but other mining activity, such as the nearby Galena lead mines, began operating in the area in 1919. The post office reopened in 1933, and the first school was constructed in 1939. After the school was built, families began to live at Koyukuk year-round.
The 2011 Alaska Department of Labor Estimates put Koyukuk population at 97. Residents are primarily Koyukon Athabaskans with a subsistence lifestyle. Trapping and beadwork supplement incomes. Subsistence foods include salmon, whitefish, moose, waterfowl, and berries.
Catholic baptisms were recorded in Koyukuk in the late 1800's by missionary priests from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Jesus. The community has never had a resident priest but a church dedicated to St. Patrick was constructed slowly during the years 1958-1962. It was replaced during 1987 and 1988 when the town's old generator building was converted into the new Saint Patrick's church.
Up until 1948, Koyukuk Catholics were served by priests visiting from Nulato. After that priests from Tanana and Galena also began visiting.
Religious Sisters of Notre Dame served faithfully at Saint Patrick parish during the 1980's. They were assisted by Franciscan Friars stationed at that time in Galena. Franciscan brothers, who are still serving in the Interior region, also served in Koyukuk in the 1980's.
Since 1998 St. Patrick's parish has been served by ministry teams out of Galena. Koyukuk is one of several villages in the Interior Region of the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks situated on or near the Koyukuk, Kuskokwim, Tanana and Yukon Rivers. These parishes are most often served by parish administrators and other trained lay staff members whose ministry is supported by priests and religious brothers or sisters. Celebrations of the Word with Holy Communion replace Sunday Mass when a priest is unavailable.