Bethel, one of the largest communities in western Alaska, is located at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River in the enormous Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.
Bethel was established by Yup'ik Eskimos who called the village "Mumtrekhlogamute," meaning "Smokehouse People," named for a nearby fish smokehouse. The community was moved to its present location due to erosion at the former site. In the early 1900s, Bethel was serving as a trading, transportation, and distribution center for the region.
Today, Bethel serves as the regional center for 56 surrounding villages. Access to Bethel is by air and water.