Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC) instrumental in village relocation

by Greg Solomon

UIC Bowhead Transport’s M/V Unalaq at the barge landing in Mertarvik, dropping off the new power module build by UIC Construction.

Threatened by frequent, storm-driven erosion and flooding, the village of Newtok located on the Ninglick River in Southwest Alaska has been in the process of relocating nine miles up-river to Nelson Island and the new village site of Mertarvik since early summer.

Bowhead Transport, LLC, a subsidiary of UIC, was busy for most of the summer hauling construction materials and supplies on its 150 foot long shallow draft, ocean-going vessel, the M/V Unalaq into Mertarvik.

The vessel’s shallow draft made it possible to navigate up the Ninglick River and off-load at the shallow draft landing site. Residents were heard saying they had never seen such a large boat so close to their village. The Unalaq is close to five stories tall.

A view of Mertarvik on one of many trips to Mertarvik.

“Project Mertarvik” as it was called, basically involved building a village from the bottom up.

Another of UIC’s subsidiaries, UIC Construction, LLC (UICC), started in the fall of 2018 building roads, a new camp, houses, a new landfill and a new runway.

UICC also built and installed a new power module. This is the first time in history that Mertarvik has a permanent power source. With the help of the U.S. military later in June and throughout the summer, Mertarvik is now ready for the first round of residents of Newtok to call it home.

UIC Construction completed the new Mertarvik runway in time for the start of construction on homes and facilities.

UIC and its subsidiaries are proud to be involved in different ways to help ensure the sustainability and safety of the Newtok residents as well as providing updated facilities and infrastructure for the village of Mertarvik.

About UIC

UIC is the Alaska Native Village Corporation of Barrow, Alaska and provides social and economic resources to over 2,900 Iñupiat shareholders and their descendants. Since its establishment, UIC has diversified its investments and consistently ranks among the top Alaskan-owned companies. UIC employs more than 4,500 people and provides services to clients in a variety of industries, including operations in Barrow, construction, architecture and engineering, regulatory consulting, information technology, marine operations, logistics, and maintenance and manufacturing. More information about UIC and its family of companies can be found at

The interior of a recently nished Mertarvik home, built by UIC Construction.

Article is courtesy of Greg Solomon, Director of Marketing for UIC.