Nelson Lagoon, also referred to as “The Lagoon”, is located on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula, on a narrow sand spit. It is 580 miles southwest of Anchorage and 70 miles north of Cold Bay. Once a seasonal fish camp used by the Unangan people, Nelson Lagoon is now a permanent community with commercial fishing as its economic base.
The lagoon was named in 1882 for Edward William Nelson of the U.S. Signal Corps, an explorer in the Yukon Delta region between 1877 and 1920. A salmon saltery operated from 1906 to 1917, which attracted Scandinavian fishermen. In 1965 a school was built, and the community began to be occupied year-round. Today, there are about 50 residents.
Nelson Lagoon is an unincorporated village governed by a federally-recognized tribe, the Native Village of Nelson Lagoon. Nelson Lagoon residents are dependent upon the commercial salmon industry for their livelihood. Residents fish gillnet or operate set net sites in the lagoon and up the river.