When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971, Venetie and Arctic Village opted for title to the 1.8 million acres of land in the former Venetie Reservation, which they own as tenants in common through the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government.
Official Tribal Name: Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government.
Address: P.O. Box 81080, Venetie, AK 99781
Village of Venetie
P.O. Box 81119, Venetie, AK 99781
P.O. Box 22069, Arctic Village, AK 99722
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Alaskan Ethnic Group: Indians
Alaskan Native Culture: The people of Arctic Village and Venetie are largely descendants of the Neets’ai Gwich’in and, to a lesser extent, the Gwichyaa and Dihaii Gwich’in.
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Alaska Native Regional Corporation: Doyon, Limited
Alaska Native Association: Tanana Chiefs Conference
Member Villages: Arctic Village and Venetie Village
Related Tribes: Gwich’in
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Neets’aii Gwichin meaning “residents of the north side.”
Alternate Names / Spellings: Arctic Village, Village of Venetie, Old Robert’s Village, Chandalar Village
Venetie is located on the north side of the Chandalar River, 45 miles northwest of Fort Yukon and Arctic Village is on the east fork of the Chandalar River, 100 miles north of Fort Yukon and 290 miles north of Fairbanks.
In 1863, Archdeacon McDonald of Fort Yukon observed that the Chandalar Kutchin were important providers of caribou meat for the residents of Ft. Yukon.
Venetie was known to early explorers as Old Robert’s Village or Chandalar Village. Venetie was founded in 1895 by a man named Old Robert, who chose Venetie because of its plentiful fish and game.
In 1899 the U.S. Geological Survey noted about 50 Natives living on the Chandalar; some were in small settlements of cabins about 7 miles above the mouth of the river, but most were in the mountainous part of the country beyond the Yukon Flats. They spent only the coldest winter months in cabins and the remainder of the year traveling for various food sources.
In 1905 Venetie was a settlement of half a dozen cabins and 25 or 30 residents. The gold rush to the Chandalar region in 1906-07 brought a large number of miners. A mining camp of nearly 40 cabins and attendant services was established at Caro, upriver from Venetie, and another store was located near the mouth of the East Fork.
By 1910 the Chandalar was largely played out, and Caro almost completely abandoned.
The first permanent resident at the present Arctic Village site was Chief Christian in 1909.
Reverend Albert Tritt, a Neets’aii Gwich’in born in 1880, wrote that his people led a nomadic life, traveling to the Arctic coast, Rampart, Old Crow, the Coleen River, and Fort Yukon in the 1880s and 1890s.
With the introduction of firearms in the early 1900s, family groups began to gather more permanently at several locations; there was no longer a need to disperse into small groups to hunt caribou.
In 1943 the Venetie Indian Reservation was established, due to the combined efforts of the residents of Venetie, Arctic Village, Christian Village, and Robert’s Fish Camp, who worked together to protect their land for subsistence use.
Until the 1950s, the Neets’aii Gwichin (“residents of the north side”) lived a highly nomadic life. They traditionally used seasonal camps and semi-permanent settlements, such as Arctic Village, Christian, Venetie, and Sheenjak, in pursuit of fish and game. They traded with Inupiat Eskimos on the Arctic coast. There is archaeological evidence that the Arctic Village area was populated as early as 4,500 BC.
The first school was built in 1959 at Venetie, encouraging additional families to settle in the village. Eventually an airstrip, post office, and store were built.
During the 1950s and 60s, the use of seasonal camps declined, but the advent of the snowmachine enabled Venetie residents to renew use of areas which had traditionally been occupied seasonally.
When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971, Venetie and Arctic Village opted for title to the 1.8 million acres of land in the former reservation, which they own as tenants in common through the Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government.
As of 2012 the population of Arctic Village was 178 and there were 181 in Venetie.
Climate and Topography:
Arctic Village has a continental subarctic climate. Winters are long and harsh, and summers are short but warm.
The average high temperature range during July is 65 to 72 °F. The average low temperature during January is well below zero. Extended periods of -50 to -60 °F are common. Extreme temperatures have been measured ranging from a low of -70 to a high of 90 °F. Precipitation averages 9 inches, and snowfall averages 52.8 inches.
In Venetie, the winters are long and harsh, and the summers are short but warm. Daily minimum temperatures between November and March are usually below 0 °F. Extended periods of -50 to -60 °F are common. Summer high temperatures run 65 to 72 °F; a high of 97 °F has been recorded. Total annual precipitation averages 6.6 inches, with 43 inches of snowfall. The Chandalar River is ice-free from the end of May through mid-September.
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The economy is based on a subsistence lifestyle, which is still important today.
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