Birch Creek


Population: 33*, predominantly Dendu Gwich'in Athabascans
Location: Birch Creek, 26 miles SW of Fort Yukon

History: The Dendu Gwich'in traditionally occupied much of the Yukon Flats south of the Yukon River, including portions of the Crazy and White Mountains. Semi-permanent camps existed near the present village. The first written reference to a settlement in the Birch Creek area was in 1862 by a Fort Yukon clergyman who visited a camp established to provide fish for the Hudson's Bay Company in Fort Yukon. Some anthropologists believe that this band was annihilated by scarlet fever in the 1880s, but there are ethnographic accounts of the use of this area from 1867 onward. Birch Creek resident Jimmy was the founder of Birch Creek and was Great Chief among the chiefs in his days. He built a cabin in 1898 at the site of the Hudson’s Bay fish camp. Several years later, he was joined by other extended family members. In approximately 1916, the group moved three miles upstream to the site of the present village. It was used as a seasonal base for harvest activities until the early 1950s, when the establishment of a school encouraged village residents to adopt a more settled way of life. The first airstrip was constructed in 1973.  

*According to the 2010 US Census