Published on October 12, 2010 by John
Location and Climate
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Minto is located on the west bank of the Tolovana River, 130 miles northwest of Fairbanks. It lies on an 11-mile spur road off of the Elliott Highway. The community lies at approximately 65.153330° North Latitude and -149.336940° West Longitude. (Sec. 23, T004N, R009W, Fairbanks Meridian). Minto is located in the Manley Hot Springs Recording District. The climate is cold and continental with extreme temperature differences. The average daily maximum during July is in the low 70s; the average daily minimum during January is well below 0 °F. Extended periods of -40 °F and very strong wind chill factors are common during the winter. Average annual precipitation is 12 inches, with 50 inches of snowfall.
History, Culture and Demographics
Minto is in the western-most portion of traditional Tanana Athabascan territory. During the late 1800s, some members of the Minto band traveled to Tanana, Rampart, and Fort Yukon to trade furs for manufactured goods, tea, and flour. With the discovery of gold north of Fairbanks in 1902, steamboats began to navigate the Tanana River, bringing goods and new residents into the area. Old Minto became a permanent settlement when some members of the Minto band built log cabins there, on the bank of the Tanana River. Other families lived in tents on a seasonal basis. A BIA school was established in 1937, but most families still did not live in Minto year-round until the 1950s. The Minto band was eventually joined by families from Nenana, Toklat, Crossjacket, and Chena. The village was relocated to its present location, 40 miles north of the old site, in 1969 due to repeated flooding and erosion. The present site had been used as a fall and winter camp since the early 1900s. New housing and a new school were completed by 1971.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community — the Native Village of Minto. The population of the community consists of 92.2% Alaska Native or part Native. Minto residents are mainly Tanana Athabascans. Several families have seasonal fishing/hunting camps and trapping areas on the Tanana River and Goldstream Creek. The sale or importation of alcohol is banned in the village. During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 99, and vacant housing units numbered 25. Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 5. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 42 residents as employed. The unemployment rate at that time was 40.85 percent, although 76.54 percent of all adults were not in the work force. The median household income was $21,250, per capita income was $9,640, and 26.42 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.
Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care
Water is derived from two wells, treated, and distributed in a heated circulating water line. Wastes are piped to a sewage lagoon. Fifty-two (52) homes are connected to the piped water and sewer system and have complete plumbing. Thirty-eight (38) households haul their own water and honeybuckets. Electricity is provided by AVEC. There is one school located in the community, attended by 50 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Minto Clinic. Emergency Services have highway and air access. Emergency service is provided by volunteers and a health aide.
Economy and Transportation
Most of the year-round employment is with the school, lodge, clinic, or village council. Many residents work during summers firefighting for the BLM. Some residents trap or work in the arts and crafts center, making birch-bark baskets and beaded skin and fur items. Subsistence is an important part of the local economy. Most families travel to fish camp each summer. Minto Flats is one of the most popular duck-hunting spots in Alaska. Salmon, whitefish, moose, bear, small game, waterfowl, and berries are utilized.
Minto is accessible by the Elliott Highway via a 118-mile drive to Fairbanks. The Tolovana River provides boat access to the Tanana and Nenana Rivers. The area is too shallow for barge service. A state-owned 3,400′ long by 75′ wide gravel airstrip is available. Trucks, cars, snowmachines, ATVs, and riverboats are used for transportation, recreation, and subsistence purposes.