The Inupiat Eskimo village of Unalakleet is located on Norton Sound at the mouth of the Unalakleet River, 148 miles southeast of Nome. It is an ancient settlement and has long been a major trade center as the terminus for the Kaltag Portage, an important winter travel route connecting to the Yukon River.
The Russian-American Company built a post at Unalakleet in the 1830s. In 1898, reindeer herders from Lapland were brought to Unalakleet to establish sound herding practices. In 1901, the United States Army Signal Corps built over 600 miles of telegraph line from St. Michael to Unalakleet, over the portage to Kaltag and Fort Gibbon. The city was incorporated in 1974.
As of 2011, according to Alaska Department of Labor estimates, Unalakleet's population was 692. The village has a history of diverse cultures and trade activity. The inhabitants, though mainly Inupiat Eskimos, include a mix of Yup'ik Eskimos and Athabaskan Indians. Both commercial fishing for herring and herring roe and subsistence activities are major components of Unalakleet's economy. Fish, seal, caribou, moose, and bear are favorite harvests.
Catholic presence began in Unalakleet as early as 1910, when the village was visited from St. Michael by a missionary priest of the Society of Jesus. Missionaries continued to visit afterwards; most came to Unalakleet from Nome, Kaltag or Saint Michael. In 1952, a small cabin-church was built and dedicated under the patronage of the Holy Angels. It was replaced by a new "Church of the Holy Angels" in 1994.
The Catholic presence in Unalakleet has never been large, as the village has for generations been a stronghold of the Swedish Covenant Church.
Parishes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are now served on a rotating schedule by ministry teams which may include priests, deacons, religious and trained lay staff members. Celebrations of the Word with Holy Communion may replace Sunday Mass when a priest is unavailable. Holy Angels Parish is served by visiting priests and ministers from the Diocesan Y-K Subregion A.