Buckland (Nunatchiaq in Iñupiaq) is one of the native villages who are members of NANA Regional Corporation. Buckland is an Inupiat village, and subsistence activities are an important focus of the economy.
Official Tribal Name: Village of Buckland
Address: P.O. Box 67, Buckland, AK 99727
Phone: (907) 494-2171
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
US Culture Region: Artic
Alaskan Ethnic Group: Eskimo (Inuit)
Alaskan Native Culture: Iñupiat
Alaska Geographical Region:
Alaska Borough / Census Area:
Alaska Native Regional Corporation: NANA Regional Corporation
Agency: Nome Agency
Buckland is located on the west bank of the Buckland River, about 75 air miles southeast of Kotzebue.
Buckland residents and their close ancestors have established villages at different points along the Buckland River at least five times in recent memory. Other sites have included Elephant Point, New Site and Old Buckland.
Pasturing or harvesting the village’s reindeer herd led to relocations to New Site and Old Buckland in the 1920s. Extensive fossil remains at Elephant Point indicate prehistoric occupation of the Buckland vicinity. The city was incorporated in 1966.
The population of Buckland has quadrupled in less than a century, from 104 in 1930 to a current population of around 416. Ninety-seven percent of Buckland inhabitants are Iñupiat.
Inupiat, or Alaskan Inuit, is a group of dialects of the Inuit language, spoken by the Inupiat people in northern and northwestern Alaska. The Iñupiaq language is a member of the Eskimo languages. There are roughly 7,000–9,000 speakers.
The name is also written Inupiatun, Inupiaq, Iñupiaq, Inyupiaq, Inyupiat, Inyupeat, Inyupik, and Inupik.
The City of Buckland is incorporated under the laws of the State of Alaska, and has a mayor. It is one of eleven communities in the Northwest Arctic Borough. An Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) government is the people’s federally-recognized tribal government.
Tribal land assets and corporations are managed by the NANA Regional Corporation, of which this village is a member.
CLIMATE AND TOPOGRAPHY
Buckland is located in a transitional climate zone characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Temperatures average 14 degrees below zero to three degrees above Fahrenheit in the winter and 45 to 60 degrees during summer. Temperature extremes have been recorded from 60 degrees below zero to 85 degrees above.
Buckland receives less precipitation than most communities in the NANA region. Snowfall averages 40 inches per year, rainfall nine inches. Powerful crosswinds often restrict flying during cold-weather months.
Buckland is located in an area subject to flooding during spring break-up due to ice jamming.
TRANSPORATION SERVICES AND FACILITIES
Air – Scheduled and chartered cargo and passenger flights land in Buckland on a 3,200′ long by 75′ wide gravel airstrip that is one of 256 airports and airstrips maintained by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, the largest aviation system in North America.
Scheduled regional passenger air carriers fly back and forth daily from Buckland to Kotzebue, where connecting flights to other villages throughout Northwest Alaska are available. A round-trip ticket from Buckland to Kotzebue costs $260-$324.
Air cargo rates from Kotzebue to Buckland range from 90 cents per pound for major loads (in excess of 5,000 pounds) to $1.05 per pound for loads weighing less than 500 pounds with Bering Air.
Land – There are no roads connecting Buckland to the rest of the state. Residents travel overland to other villages and to reach subsistence hunting grounds by all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, depending on the season.
Water/Marine – Various barge companies deliver fuel and other supplies in the summer. Small boats are used for inter-village travel and subsistence activities.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL SERVICES
Water – The public water supply in Buckland is pumped 300 feet from the Buckland River via an insulated transmission line, treated in the village washeteria and then stored in a 100,000-gallon holding tank. A few homes have indoor plumbing, as does the Buckland School. Most residents haul their own water from the public tank.
Sewer – Apart from the handful of residences that are connected to a limited village sewer system, roughly half the households in Buckland use flush/haul waste tanks while the other half utilize the tried-and-true honeybucket method. The city empties honeybucket bunkers and flush/haul tanks weekly.
A flush haul system is currently under construction in Buckland, including household water and waste holding tanks and complete plumbing.
Currently, 36 homes have new flush haul systems, 46 homes still use honeybuckets, and 5 homes are connected to the school’s piped system.
The school is connected to the washeteria system and has full plumbing.
Solid Waste Disposal – Residents dispose of their refuse in dumpsters placed around Buckland. City workers periodically haul away and empty the dumpsters in an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved landfill outside of town.
Public Safety – Buckland is within the service area of the Alaska State Troopers based in Kotzebue. A Village Public Safety Officer is in training, to serve the community, and the City of Buckland has a local Village Police Officer and a weekend back-up VPO.
OTHER SERVICES AND UTILITIES
In addition to the facilities and services below, Buckland has one grocery store, three small stores and a community hall.
Health Services – The Buckland Clinic, operated by Maniilaq Association, provides routine health care. The clinic is staffed by a health aide, who is on call 24 hours a day, and by volunteers. Emergency patients are transported to Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue.
The Community Health Aide/Practitioner program (CHAP) operates eleven remote village clinics.
All clinics are directly connected to the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, providing access to all medical records and medical libraries as well as visual and audio teleconferencing capability to consult doctors.
Using a computer telemedicine unit, village clinics can send electronic pictures to the Maniilaq Health Center, where physicians view the images, making long-distance diagnosis easier and more accurate.
Several times a year specialized doctors, dentists, and eye doctors make regularly scheduled visits to the clinics to provide specialized care not usually offered in the area. Additionally, Maniilaq Association contracts with a Licensed Air Carrier to provide reliable, safe and timely medevac services.
Electricity – The Kotzebue Electric Association is contracted to provide electrical power to Buckland via diesel generators with a peak capacity of 650 KiloWatts. The cost is 40 cents per Kilowatt Hour (KWH).
Telecommunications – Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone Cooperative provides in-state telephone service to Buckland residents and businesses, and long-distance service is provided through a combination of AT&T, Anchorage-based GCI and Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone. Internet service is provided through Inutek.net, a cooperative effort between OTZ, Maniilaq Association and Anchorage-based GCI Communications.
Around 183 students attend the Buckland School every year, which is a combined elementary, middle and high school facility. The Buckland School employs 14 teachers.
Employment is primarily with the school, IRA, city, health clinic, and small stores. Some mining also occurs.
One resident holds a commercial fishing permit.
Residents depend on subsistence hunting and fishing, and trade among family and regional connections for most food, drawing primarily on local game resources. Residents depend on caribou, beluga whale and seal for survival.
A herd of more than 2,000 reindeer are privately managed; workers are paid in meat. The only difference between reindeer and caribou is the reindeer is a caribou that has been domesticated. If they are wild animals not managed by people who live in their natural habitat in a wild state, then they are called caribou.
The village is interested in developing a Native food products and crafts manufacturing facility to produce reindeer sausage, berry products, ivory and wood carvings, and labrador tea.
Median Income / Poverty Levels
According to the 2000 census, the median income for a household was $38,333, and the median income for a family was $40,000. Males had a median income of $31,563 versus $27,500 for females. The per capita income for the city was $9,624. About 7.9% of families and 11.9% of the population were living below the poverty line, according to the 2000 census.
There are roughly 95 residential structures in Buckland. Almost all are occupied. The median home value in Buckland is $120,000. The median rent is $717. The average family household size is 5.2 persons. It is a growing, family-oriented community.