Published on October 12, 2010 by John
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Egegik Village on the Alaska
Location and Climate
Egegik is located on the south bank of the Egegik River on the Alaska Peninsula, 100 miles southeast of Dillingham and 326 air miles southwest of Anchorage. The community lies at approximately 58.215560° North Latitude and -157.375830° West Longitude. (Sec. 01, T023S, R050W, Seward Meridian). Egegik is located in the Kvichak Recording District. The area encompasses 32.8 sq. miles of land and 101.2 sq. miles of water. Egegik’s predominantly maritime climate is characterized by cool, humid, and windy weather. Summer temperatures range from 44 to 65 °F; winter temperatures range from -24 to 40 °F. Annual precipitation averages 20 to 26 inches, with 45 inches of snow.
History, Culture and Demographics
According to anthropologists, settlement of the Bristol Bay region first occurred over 6,000 years ago. Yup’ik Eskimos and Athabascan Indians jointly occupied the area. Aleuts arrived in later years. The first recorded contact by non-Natives was with Russian fur traders between 1818 and 1867. The village was reported by Russians as a fish camp called “Igagik” (meaning “throat”) in 1876. Local people would travel each year from Kanatak on the gulf coast through a portage pass to Becharof Lake and then hike or kayak on to the Egegik Bay area for summer fish camp. In 1895, an Alaska Packers Association salmon saltery was established at the mouth of Egegik River, and a town developed around the former fish camp. During the influenza outbreaks beginning in 1918, Natives from other villages moved to Egegik in an attempt to isolate themselves from the disease. During World War II, men from Egegik were enlisted to help build the King Salmon Airport, with many subsequently serving in Dutch Harbor and elsewhere. Egegik later grew into a major salmon production port. Egegik incorporated as a second-class city in 1995.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community — the Egegik Village. The population of the community consists of 76.7% Alaska Native or part Native. Egegik has a strong year-round Alutiiq culture. Residents are active in local and state government and adopt a team approach. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 286, and vacant housing units numbered 242. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 236. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 21 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 27.59 percent, although 73.75 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $46,000, per capita income was $16,352, and 6.9 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.
Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care
The City of Egegik operates a public water/sewer system. Egegik’s water is supplied by a combination of three wells. Two storage tanks are used, comprised of an indoor 8,000 gallon tank and an outside 100,000 gallon tank. Most households and public facilities are plumbed and connected to the public water and sewer system. The Icicle Seafoods facility derives processing water from School Lake and obtains water for general use from the city. A 7-acre landfill is available, with a batch oxidation incinerator. Electricity is provided by Egegik Light & Power Company. There is one school located in the community, attended by 12 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Egegik Village Clinic. Emergency Services have coastal and air access. Emergency service is provided by a health aide Auxiliary health care is provided by Egegik First Responders (907-233-2202/2244).
Economy and Transportation
The economy is based primarily on commercial fishing and fish processing. During the commercial fishing season, the population swells by 1,000 to 2,000 fishermen and cannery workers. There are a number of on-shore processors located within the Egegik Fishing District. Icicle Seafoods, on the south shore of the Egegik River, and Coffee Point Seafoods, on the north side of the river, are the two largest processors in the area. Numerous tenders operate in the Egegik Fishery, transporting fish to floating processors in Bristol Bay, as well as on-shore processors in Naknek and Dillingham. Subsistence hunting and fishing activities are an important part of the lifestyle and local diet. Seal, beluga, salmon, trout, smelt, grayling, clams, moose, bear, caribou, porcupine, waterfowl, and ptarmigan are utilized. Locals also gather berries and wild greens each season. In 2009, 17 residents held commercial fishing permits.
The community is accessible by air and water. A city-owned 5,600′ long by 100′ wide lighted gravel runway with a crosswind airstrip 1,500′ long and 75′ wide is located 2 miles south of Egegik. Scheduled and charter flights are available. A city-owned dock accomodates fuel barge service, as well as freight barge service from Anchorage and Seattle. Boat haul-out is available. Two privately-owned docks and marine storage are also available.