Chalkyitsik


Population: 69*, predominantly Gwich'in Athabascan
Location: Black River, 50 miles E of Fort Yukon

History: Chalkyitsik means “fish-hooking place” and 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 BCE. Village elders remember a highly mobile 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. Near 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 Indian who married a Black River woman. 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. By 1969, there were 26 houses, a store, two churches, and a community hall in Chalkyitsik.

*According to the 2010 US Census