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Alaska Village Photos

Unalaska in the evening

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Iditarod Finish at Nome
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Alaska Village Photos

Alaskan Natives have a unique history and culture. From the earliest beginnings of after crossing the Bering Land Bridge, the Alaskan Natives, their culture and villages have remained prevalent icon on the Alaska landscape. At Alaska Stock Images, you will find a wide variety of Alaska photos including some of the most interesting Alaska Village Photos. To find more pictures of Alaska and its people, visit our search page.

Early Alaska Tourism
Icebergs on Chukchi Sea
Many towns and cities in Alaska got their start as mining camps, shipping ports, and even construction camps. As Alaska became "discovered" and controlled first by the Russians and eventually the United States, the question soon arose would the Native Alaskan be sent down the same destructive path as many Native Americans? In a unique experiment and triumph, the Alaskan Natives were able to unite and form the Alaska Federation of Natives eventually lobbying for the passage of the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1971. The passage of this Act settled the issue of what lands Alaska Natives owned by right of "traditional use and occupancy." Although there still remain controversial issues surrounding the Settlement Act and the future of the various Native Corporations, the united front of the Alaskan Native Federation was a first in history and has successfully retained many of the original lands and villages.
View of Arctic Village
View of Arctic Village

Shishmaref is located on Sarichef Island, in the Chukchi Sea, just north of Bering Strait. Shishmaref is five miles from the mainland, 126 miles north of Nome and 100 miles southwest of Kotzebue. The village is surrounded by the 2.6 million-acre Bering Land Bridge National Reserve. It is part of the Beringian National Heritage Park, endorsed by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev in 1990. The area experiences a transitional climate between the frozen arctic and the continental Interior. Summers can be foggy, with average temperatures ranging from 47 to 54; winter temperatures average -12 to 2. Average annual precipitation is about 8 inches, including 33 inches of snow. The Chukchi Sea is frozen from mid-November through mid-June. The original Eskimo name for the island is "Kigiktaq." In 1816, Lt. Otto Von Kotzebue named the inlet "Shishmarev," after a member of his crew. During October 1997, a severe storm eroded over 30 feet of the north shore, requiring 14 homes and the National Guard Armory to be relocated. Five additional homes were relocated in 2002. Other storms have continued to erode the shoreline, an average of 3 to 5 feet per year on the north shore. In July 2002, residents voted to relocate the community.

Arctic Village is on the east fork of the Chandalar River, 290 miles north of Fairbanks. The average high temperature during July ranges from 65 to 72; the average low temperature during January is well below zero. Extended periods of -50 to -60 are common. As recently as the 1950's, the people in this region were highly nomadic and moved from seasonal hunting camps and fish camps to semi-permanent settlements. Archeological evidence shows that people have been in this area since 4,500 B.C. Located in the heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, the Gwich'in often find themselves at the center of land and subsistence controversy. Water is drawn from the Chandalar River, is treated and hauled from the washeteria. None of the homes are plumbed. The economy of Arctic Village is subsistence-based. Caribou, moose, sheep, porcupine, rabbit and ptarmigan are hunted. Freshwater fish, waterfowl and berries are also gathered. The school, clinic, village council and stores are the primary employers.

View of Nome
Nome Alaska & Norton Sound

Nome is along the Bering Sea, on the south coast of the Seward Peninsula, facing Norton Sound. It lies 539 air miles northwest of Anchorage. Malemiut, Kauweramiut and Unalikmiut Eskimos have occupied the Seward Peninsula historically. In the mid to late 1800's, the caribou population started to decline and Eskimos were forced to change their diet. With the discovery of Gold near Anvil Creek in 1898, Nome was transformed into a "tent-city" with a population of 20,000 virtually overnight. Nome's gold fields have yielded $136 million. Gold depletion, the depression, an influenza epidemic, and a major fire that destroyed most of the city in 1934 have all contributed to the decline of Nome's population. Today, Nome has approximately 1500 homes and about a 59% ratio of Native Alaskans. Nome serves as a regional "hub" for receiving shipments and cargo for surrounding villages. Of course it is perhaps best known as the terminus for the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Umiak whale boat, Barrow
Umiak whale boat at Barrow, Alaska
Barrow, the northernmost community in North America, is located on the Chukchi Sea coast, 10 miles south of Point Barrow from which it takes its name. It lies 725 air miles from Anchorage. The climate of Barrow is arctic. Precipitation is light, averaging 5 inches, with annual snowfall of 20 inches. Temperatures range from -56 to 78, averaging 40 during summer. The sun does not set between May 10th and August 2nd each summer, and does not rise between Nov. 18th and January 24th each winter. The daily minimum temperature is below freezing 324 days of the year. Barrow was named for Sir John Barrow, 2nd Secretary of the British Admiralty. However, the original native name of Barrow is the Eskimo name Ukpeagvik (place where owls are hunted.) Water is derived from a dam on Isatkoak Lagoon. Barrow is the economic center of the North Slope Borough, the city's primary employer, and numerous businesses provide support services to oil field operations.
Traditional fish wheels on Copper River
Fish Wheels on Copper River

Gakona is at the confluence of the Copper and Gakona Rivers, 15 miles northeast of Glennallen. It lies at mile 2 on the Tok Cutoff to the Glenn Highway, just east of the Richardson Highway. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -62 to 91. Snowfall averages 61 inches, with total precipitation of 13 inches per year. Ahtna Indians have lived in the Copper River basin for 5,000 to 7,000 years. Gakona served as a wood and fish camp, and later became a permanent village. In 1904 Doyle's Roadhouse was constructed at the junction of the Valdez-Eagle and Valdez-Fairbanks Trails, and became an essential stopping point for travelers. There was also a post office, stagecoach station and blacksmith shop here. Some buildings are still standing. Gakona Lodge was built in 1929 and is on the National Register of Historical Places. The lodge contains many old relics of the gold rush era. Some residents rely on subsistence activities and trapping. Recording equipment for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is located near Gakona.

- information provided by the State of Alaska Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development

Books of Interest:

Shadows Along the Koyukuk - In his dramatic autobiography, Alaskan elder Sidney Huntington, half-white, half-Athabascan, recounts his adventures, tragedies, and ultimate success.

Village Journey - In 1983, the author was appointed by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference to conduct the Alaska Native Review Commission. He traveled to Eskimo, Indian, and Aleut villages to hold hear ings to determine the effects of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA).

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