Huslia Indian Tribe of Alaska

Published on October 11, 2010 by John

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Huslia

Location and Climate

Huslia is located on the north bank of the Koyukuk River, about 170 river miles northwest of Galena and 290 air miles west of Fairbanks. It lies within the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge. The community lies at approximately 65.698610° North Latitude and -156.399720° West Longitude. (Sec. 33, T004N, R012E, Kateel River Meridian). Huslia is located in the Nulato Recording District. The area encompasses 16.4 sq. miles of land and 0.7 sq. miles of water. The area has a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average daily maximum temperature is 72 °F during July; the average minimum is below 0 °F during January. Record temperatures have been recorded from -65 to above 90 °F. The annual precipitation averages 13 inches, with 70 inches of snowfall. The Koyukuk River is ice-free from May through September.

History, Culture and Demographics

The Koyukon Athabascans lived between the south fork of the Koyukuk River and the Kateel River. They had spring, summer, fall, and winter camps and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer, many families would float on a raft to the Yukon to fish for salmon. The Koyukon often traded with the Kobuk River Eskimos. By 1843, Russian explorers had made contact with Athabascans approximately 50 miles downriver from the current site. The Western Union Telegraph Company explored the river around 1867, and missionary activity increased after 1870. Cutoff Trading Post (also called Old Town) was established in the 1920s about 4 miles overland or 16 river miles from modern Huslia. In 1949, the community moved to the present site, because Cutoff flooded frequently, and the ground was swampy. Huslia (originally spelled Huslee) was named after a local stream. Huslia had been used as a burial site since 1886, but, by the time of the move, most of the old cemetery had been destroyed by erosion. In 1950, the first school was established, followed by a post office, airport, and road construction in 1952. At this time, families began to live year-round at Huslia. In 1960, a health clinic was constructed, and, in 1963, 29 individual hand-pumped water wells were installed. The city government was incorporated in 1969. Running water and indoor plumbing arrived in 1974.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community — the Huslia Village. The population of the community consists of 95.2% Alaska Native or part Native. Huslia is an Athabascan village, and most residents are related by birth or marriage. The sale of alcohol is banned in the community; importation or possession are allowed. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 111, and vacant housing units numbered 23. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 6. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 94 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 18.26 percent, although 50 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $27,000, per capita income was $10,983, and 28.05 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.

Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care

Piped water and sewer has existed in Huslia since 1974. Water is derived from a well and is treated. Electricity is provided by AVEC. There is one school located in the community, attended by 72 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Huslia Clinic. Emergency Services have river and air access. Emergency service is provided by volunteers and a health aide.

Economy and Transportation

Subsistence is central to the local economy. Salmon, whitefish, moose, bear, caribou, small game, waterfowl, and berries provide most food sources. The city, tribe, school, clinic, and stores provide the only full-time employment. During summer months, BLM firefighting and construction jobs outside of the village supplement income.

Water travel is the principal mode of transportion during the summer. Cargo arrives by barge twice each year. Huslia is accessible by air year-round, and the 4,000′ long by 75′ wide lighted gravel airstrip that is owned by the state. Snowmachines, ATVs, and skiffs are used for local transportation. Huslia has a network of winter trails, and the frozen river is used as an ice road to neighboring villages.

Source: commerce.state.ak.us

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