Savoonga is located on the northern coast of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, 164 miles west of Nome and 39 miles southeast of Gambell. The island has been inhabited for the past 2,000 years by both Alaskan and Siberian Yup'ik Eskimos. A tragic famine in 1878-80 severely reduced the island’s 4,000 population. The Adventist work began in the late 1930s-early 1940s through teachers working in local schools.   From their efforts, along with support by the Alaska Mission, a small group of believers was established in Savoonga.  By 1972, a small chapel and parsonage had been built.  Today conference holds an Arctic Camp Meeting each year in Savoonga.  Volunteer Elouise Hawkes has become an AMA ambassador  as she shares her village experiences with those in the “Lower 48”.

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Elouise Hawkes

Elouise and her late husband Bill arrived in Savoonga in early 2009 and quickly grew to love the people.  After Bill’s passing in February 2016, Elouise continues to return to the Savoonga. She shares, “Even though life can be a challenge, I love Savoonga.  I love the simple life.  I love the people.  I wish I was younger so I could give my whole life to work in the Arctic.“ 

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Can You Help?

Costs Include Transportation

Volunteer Support, i.e., utilities, ongoing housing costs ($12,000)



Source: DCRA Portal

St. Lawrence Island has been inhabited intermittently for the past 2,000 years by Yup'ik Eskimos. The island had numerous villages with a total population of around 4,000 by the 19th century. A tragic famine occurred on the island between 1878 and 1880, severely reducing the population. In 1900 a herd of reindeer was moved to the island, and by 1917 the herd had grown to over 10,000 animals. A reindeer camp was established in 1916 at the present village site, where grazing lands were better, and the herd tended to remain. Good hunting and trapping in the area attracted more residents.