Alakanuk is located in the western part of Alaska, at the east entrance of Alakanuk Pass, the major southern channel of the Yukon River
. The village is part of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
. Alakanuk is inhabited by Central Yup'ik Eskimo villagers, whose ancestors moved to the site in 1899.
Alakanuk is a Yup'ik word meaning "wrong way," relating to the village's maze of watercourses.