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Birch Creek

Birch Creek

Browse Locations Birch Creek


Birch Creek

a.k.a. Dendu Gwich'in Tribe



Current Population: 27   (2011 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)

Incorporation Type:       Unincorporated

Located In:  Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area

Taxes:  No taxing authority




Location and Climate

The village is located along Birch Creek, approximately 26 miles southwest of Fort Yukon. The community lies at approximately 66.256190° North Latitude and -145.849670° West Longitude. (Sec. 28, T017N, R009E, Fairbanks Meridian.)   Birch Creek is located in the Fairbanks Recording District.

Birch Creek has a continental subarctic climate, characterized by seasonal extremes of temperature. Winters are long and harsh, and summers are 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 have been measured, ranging from a low of -71 to a high of 97 °F. Annual precipitation averages 6.5 inches, and snowfall averages 43.4 inches per year. Birch Creek is ice-free from mid-June to mid-October.


History, Culture and Demographics

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 Hudson's Bay Company in Ft. Yukon. Some anthropologists believe that this band was annihilated by scarlet fever in the 1880s, though there are ethnographic accounts of the use of this area from 1867 onwards. Birch Creek 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 Bay fish camp. Several years later, he was joined by other extended family members. Around 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 less nomadic way of life. The first airstrip was constructed in 1973. The school was closed in 1999 due to insufficient students.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Birch Creek Tribe; Dendu Gwich'in Tribal Council. Local residents are Dendu Gwich'in Athabascans and are active in subsistence practices. Possession of alcohol is banned in the village.

According to Census 2010, there were 18 housing units in the community and 17 were occupied. Its population was 100 percent American Indian or Alaska Native;


Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care

Water is derived from Birch Creek and a slant well and is treated and stored in a 80,000-gal. tank. Residents haul water from the water plant. Honeybuckets are disposed of in the sewage lagoon, or outhouses are used. No homes are plumbed. Electricity is provided by Birch Creek Village Electric. There are schools located in the community,  Local hospitals or health clinics include Birch Creek Health Clinic.  Birch Creek Clinic is a Primary Health Care facility with river and air access.



Birch Creek's economy is heavily dependent upon subsistence. Salmon, whitefish, moose, black bear, waterfowl, and berries provide most food sources. Wage income opportunities are extremely limited. BLM firefighting, construction, the school, and the village council provide employment. The tribe operates the washeteria and electrical service.

The 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) estimated zero1 residents as employed. The local unemployment rate was 100.0%1. The percentage of workers not in labor force was 81.8%1. The ACS surveys established that average median household income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $17,083 (MOE +/-$16,666)1. The per capita income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $8,119 (MOE +/-$4,265)1. About 66.7%1 of all residents had incomes below the poverty level. 




Access to Birch Creek is primarily by the 4,000' long by 75' wide gravel, lighted state-owned airstrip. A new cross-wind airstrip is under construction. ATVs, motor bikes, snowmachines, and skiffs are used for fishing, hunting, and recreation. The village used to be served by barge during high water. There is a 26-mile winter trail to Ft. Yukon.

Organizations with Local Offices

Electric Utility - Denduu Gwich'in Tribal Council
P.O. Box KBC
Fort Yukon, AK 99701
Phone 907-221-2211

Tribe - federally recognized - Birch Creek Tribe
P. O. Box 71372
Fairbanks, AK 99707
Phone 907-455-8484

Village Corporation - Tiheet' Aii, Incorporated
P.O. Box KDC
Fort Yukon, AK 99707
Phone 907-221-2212



Regional Organizations

School District - Yukon Flats School District
P.O. Box 350
Ft. Yukon, AK 99740-0350
Phone 907-662-2515
Fax 907-662-3094

Regional Native Corporation - Doyon, Limited
1 Doyon Place, Suite 300
Fairbanks, AK 99701-2941
Phone 907-459-2000
Fax 907-459-2060

Regional Native Health Corporation - Tanana Chiefs Conference
122 First Ave, Suite 600
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone 907-452-8251
Fax 907-459-3851

Native Housing Authority - Interior Regional Housing Authority
828 27th Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone 907-452-8315
Fax 907-456-8941


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