Alatna, Alaska

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Alatna (pronounced /əˈlætnə/) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area of the Unorganized Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 35 at the 2000 census.


Geography and climate

Alatna is located at 66°34′01″N 152°39′59″W / 66.56694°N 152.66639°W / 66.56694; -152.66639 (66.548906, -152.844806)[1] (Sec. 33, T021N, R024W, Fairbanks Meridian)[citation needed] in the Fairbanks Recording District.

Alatna is on the north bank of the Koyukuk River, southwest of its junction with the Alatna River, approximately 190 miles (310 km) northwest of Fairbanks and 57 miles (92 km) upriver from Hughes. Alatna lies just west of the municipal boundaries of the City of Allakaket.

The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average high temperature during July is 70 °F (21 °C). The average low during January is well below 0 °F (-18 °C), and extended periods of -40 °F/C are common. The highest temperature ever recorded was 94 °F (34 °C); the lowest, -75 °F (-59 °C). Average annual precipitation is 13 inches (33 cm) and average annual snowfall is 72 inches (183 cm). The Koyukuk River is ice-free from June through October.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 36.5 square miles (94.4 km²), all of it land.

History and culture

Several Alaska Native groups have lived in the area, including Koyukon Athabascans and Kobuk, Selawik, and Nunamiut Eskimos from the north and northwest. The Koyukon lived in several camps throughout the year, moving as the seasons changed, following the wild game and fish. The various bands established joint settlements after 1851. The old site of Alatna was a traditional trading center for Athabascans and Eskimos. The first mission on the Koyukuk River, St. John's-in-the-Wilderness Episcopal Mission, was established in 1906. A post office was opened in 1925. In 1938, the name of the community was changed to Allakaket (the old name for the mission), and the name Alatna was assumed by the small Eskimo community across the river. The first public school was established in 1957. A flood caused by ice jamming inundated 85% of the community in the Spring of 1964. In 1975, the community incorporated as a City, including both settlements of Allakaket and Alatna. A clinic and airport were built in 1978. A new school and community roads were built in 1979. In September 1994, flood waters destroyed and swept away nearly all of the community's buildings, homes, and food caches for the winter. Residents have rebuilt near the old City site, but Alatna is no longer within the incorporated City boundaries.

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