Deering, or Ipnatchiaq in Inupiaq, is located on the Kotzebue Sound at the mouth of the Inmachuk River, 57 miles southwest of Kotzebue. It lies on a flat gravel spit 300 feet wide and a half-mile long.
The population of the village is 133, primarily Iñupiat Eskimo. The residents rely heavily on subsistence activities. Moose, seal and beluga whale provide most meat sources; pink salmon, tomcod, herring, ptarmigan, rabbit and waterfowl are also caught.
The village was established in 1901 as a supply station for interior gold mining near “Inmachukmiut,” a historic Malemiut Eskimo village. The name “Deering” was probably adopted from the 90-ton schooner, “Abbey Deering,” which sailed in nearby waters around 1900.
Deering’s economy is a mix of cash and subsistence activities. Three residents hold commercial fishing permits, while the Karmun-Moto reindeer herd, 1,400 strong, provides employment to some local hunters. A number of residents earn income from handicrafts; the village is interested in developing a craft production facility and cultural center to train youth in Native crafts. The school, local government, stores, an airline, and Maniilaq Association provide the only year-round jobs. The village wants to develop eco-tourism, including a 38-mile road to Inmachuk Springs for tourists.
Deering is accessible year-round by plane. A state-owned 2,600′ gravel airstrip offers flights by several Kotzebue air services. Crowley Marine Services barges fuel and goods from Kotzebue each summer. Small boats, ATV’s and snow machines are used for local travel. Winter trails are available to Candle and Buckland.
Water from the Inmachuk River is pumped to and treated in a 400,000-gallon insulated storage tank. The storage tank is filled each summer for the winter water supply; the school also uses a water tank. Deering has a full water and sewer service system. The new clinic and power plant was built and completed in the year 2006. A washeteria provides showering and laundry facilities. Deering also has a mayor, city council, administrator, vice-mayor, village police officer, fire chief, airport manager, and volunteer fire department, Deering IRA Tribal Council, as well as a school serving grades K-12. Facilities in the village include a National Guard Armory, a community hall, clinic, post office, church, and two stores.