Chalkyitsik is located on the Black River about 50 miles east of Fort Yukon. It is a traditional Gwich’in Athabascan village, with a subsistence lifestyle.
Official Tribal Name: Chalkyitsik Village
Address: P.O. Box 57, Chalkyitsik, AK 99788
Email: [email protected]
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Alaskan Ethnic Group: Indians
Alaskan Native Culture: Gwich’in Athabascan
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Alaska Native Regional Corporation: Doyon, Limited
Alaska Village Corporation: Chalkyitsik Native Corporation
Alaska Native Association: Tanana Chiefs Conference
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Alternate Names / Spellings: Chalkyitsik means “fish hooking place”
Chalkyitsik is located on the Black River about 50 miles east of Fort Yukon.
Chalkyitsik has traditionally been an important seasonal fishing site for the Gwich’in. Archaeological excavations in the area reveal use and occupancy of the region as early as 10,000 BC.
Village elders remember a highly nomadic way of life, living at the headwaters of the Black River from autumn to spring and then floating downriver to fish in summer.
Early explorers of the region refer briefly to the Black River Gwich’in Natives. Archdeacon MacDonald encountered them on the Black and Porcupine Rivers, as well as trading and socializing in Fort Yukon and Rampart, on a number of occasions from 1863 to 1868.
Around the turn of the century, the Black River band began to settle in Salmon Village, about 70 miles upriver from the present site.
The first permanent structure was built there by William Salmon, a Canadian Native who married a Black River woman.
Chalkyitsik is a traditional Gwich’in Athabascan village, with a subsistence lifestyle.
Climate and Topography:
Chalkyitsik has a continental arctic climate, characterized by seasonal extremes of temperature. Winters are long and harsh, and summers warm and short.
The average high temperature during July ranges from 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, ranging from a low of -71 to a high of 97 °F, have been measured.
Annual precipitation averages 6.5 inches, and annual snowfall averages 43.4 inches. The Black River is ice-free from mid-June to mid-October.
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In the late 1930s, a boat bound for Salmon Village with construction materials for a school had to unload at Chalkyitsik because of low water. The site was used as a seasonal fishing camp, and four cabins existed at that time.
The decision was made to build the school there, and the Black River people began to settle around the school.
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By 1969, there were 26 houses, a store, two churches, and a community hall in Chalkyitsik. The local economy is primarily dependent on subsistence activities.
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