Published on September 18, 2010 by Aquarius
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Dillingham also known as Curyung and (for the southwestern section) Kanakanak, is a city in Dillingham Census Area, Alaska, United States. According to the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, as of 2008 the population of the city is estimated to be 2,347
Dillingham is on Nushagak Bay, an inlet of Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea, in southwestern Alaska. It is located at Coordinates: 59Â°2â€²48â€³N 158Â°30â€²31â€³Wï»¿ / ï»¿59.04667Â°N 158.50861Â°Wï»¿ / 59.04667; -158.50861 (59.046751, -158.508665).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.7 square miles (92.6 kmÂ²). 33.6 square miles (87.1 kmÂ²) of it is land and 2.1 square miles (5.5 kmÂ²) of it (5.93%) is water.
Dillingham is located in the 37th district of the Alaska House of Representatives, and is represented by Bryce Edgmon, a Democrat who himself is from Dillingham.
Dillingham was once known as the Pacific salmon capital of the world and commercial fishing remains an important part of the local economy. Today, Alaska salmon is one of the only certified sustainable wild salmon fisheries left in the world and Dillingham is an important port to the Bristol Bay fishery, which annually provides most of the total Alaska salmon value overall . Dillingham, in terms of population, is the largest community in the Bristol Bay region, renowned for its world class wild salmon fishing industry. The Arctic Packing Company erected cannery buildings in 1883 and began operations the following year with a pack of 400 cases. It was not until 1959 that the fisheries were able to forecast the salmon runs in western Alaska, enabling an expansion of fishing and fishery studies in the 1960s. The 1970s brought many technological advancements and record enrollments into the fishery studies programs.
Throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s millions of sockeye salmon were harvested and sold to foreign markets. This introduced the need to regulate the amount of fish being harvested every summer.
Commercial fishing today is not nearly as lucrative as it once was. This is due in part to competition in international markets from fish farms.. But because of a parasite in Chile-based farmed salmon, as well as increased demand for wild Alaska salmon, base-prices for Bristol Bay wild-sockeye from many fishing companies increased to $0.95 a pound in 2010, much higher than the low-price of $0.42 a pound in 2001.
Dillingham is an important gateway to many eco-tourism opportunities. This includes Wood-Tikchik State Park, the largest state park in the United States known for its great fishing opportunities. Dillingham is also the headquarters for the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, home to walruses, seals, terrestrial mammals, migratory birds, fish and includes one of the largest wild herring fisheries in the world. Togiak National Wildlife Refuge was established to conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity, including salmon, to fulfill international treaty obligations; to provide for continued subsistence use; and to ensure necessary water quality and quantity.
In 2010 near Naknek, geothermal energy was in advanced stages to provide low power energy to the Bristol Bay hub Dillingham, as well as the dozens of villages nearby.
Also in 2010, the City of Dillingham voted to re-authorize it’s position opposing the proposed Pebble Mine, a large gold-copper-molybdenum prospect located at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The resolution explains that the value of the fishery totals about $100 million a year; that the commercial wild salmon fishery has been the backbone of livelihoods for more than 100 years; that the future of the renewable resource industry depends on its freshwater stream reputation; that local residents depend on subsistence activities which in turn depend on Bristol Bay’s pristine freshwater streams and habitat, and it threatens to destroy the last great wild salmon fishery on the planet.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,466 people, 884 households, and 599 families residing in the city. The population density was 73.4/sq mi (28.3/kmÂ²). There were 1,000 housing units at an average density of 29.7/sq mi (11.5/kmÂ²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.55% Native American, 35.60% White, 1.18% Asian, 0.65% Black or African American, 0.61% from other races, and 9.41% from two or more races. 3.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 884 households out of which 41.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.37.
In the city the population was spread out with 34.6% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 5.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $51,458, and the median income for a family was $57,417. Males had a median income of $47,266 versus $34,934 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,537. About 10.1% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.
The area around Dillingham was inhabited by the Yupik people. It became a trade center when Russians built Alexandrovski Redoubt (Post) there in 1818.The area was called Nushagak, after the Nushagak River. Nushagak became a place where different groups from the Kuskokwim River, the Alaska Peninsula and the Cook Inlet came to trade or live at the post. In 1837, a Russian Orthodox mission was built at Nushagak.
In 1881, after the Alaska Purchase by the United States, the United States Signal Corps built a weather station at Nushagak. In 1884, the first salmon cannery in the Bristol Bay region was constructed east of the site of modern-day Dillingham. Ten more were built by 1900. The post office east of Nushagak at Snag Point and the town were named in 1904 after United States Senator Paul Dillingham, who had toured Alaska extensively with his Senate subcommittee in 1903.
In 1918 and 1919, an influenza epidemic left no more than 500 survivors around Dillingham. A hospital and orphanage were established in Kanakanak after the epidemic, 6 miles (10 km) south of Dillingham.
In 1974, the first regional AM radio station for the Bristol Bay region was built by the Dillingham City School District under an educational grant. Using the call letters KDLG and operating at 670 kHz, the station continues to provide education, entertainment, and important safety information to the fishing fleet and the surrounding communities. It is part of the National Public Radio (NPR) and Alaska Public Radio (APRN) networks.
Present day industries around Dillingham are fishing and canning, sport fishing and tourism.
Dillingham attracted national attention in 2006 when the City of Dillingham installed 80 cameras at City owned facilities such as the dock, harbor and police station , funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant. The City justified them by stating that they enhanced the ability to monitor and enforcement at those facilities. Many criticized the project as an infringement on privacy and also that the funds were intended for national rather than local public safety issues. After spirited public debate, locally and nationally, the community held a referendum vote on the system on October 12, 2006, resulting in a rejection of the anti-camera initiative by a vote of 370 to 235.
On August 9, 2010, a DHC-3T Texas Turbine Otter crashed near Dillingham due to fog and reduced visibility. Former President Pro Tempore and Senator Ted Stevens was among the five killed aboard the plane. There were 4 survivors including former NASA Administrator and EADS executive Sean O’Keefe.
* Dillingham Middle/High School (6-12)
* University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus