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Browse Locations Chitina



(CHIT-nuh or CHIH-tee-nuh)


Current Population:     137   (2011 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)

Incorporation Type:     Unincorporated

Located In:                   Valdez-Cordova Census Area

Taxes:                          No taxing authority




Location and Climate

Chitina is located on the west bank of the Copper River at its confluence with the Chitina River, at mile 34 of the Edgerton Highway, 53 miles southeast of Copper Center. It lies outside the western boundary of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, 66 miles southeast of Glennallen. The community lies at approximately 61.515830° North Latitude and -144.436940° West Longitude. (Sec. 14, T004S, R005E, Copper River Meridian.)   Chitina is located in the Chitina Recording District.

The climate in Chitina is continental, characterized by long, cold winters and relatively warm summers. Total annual precipitation averages 12 inches, with an average annual snowfall of 52 inches. Temperature extremes from a low of -58 to a high of 91 °F have been recorded. Chitina is usually 10° warmer than its neighbor, Kenny Lake.


History, Culture and Demographics

Athabascan Indians have reportedly occupied this region for the last 5,000 to 7,000 years. Archaeological sites are located to the south and east of Chitina. Chitina was historically a large Native village whose population was slowly decimated by the influx of people, disease, and conflicts. Rich copper deposits were discovered at the turn of the century along the northern flanks of the Chitina River Valley, bringing a rush of prospectors and homesteaders to the area. The Copper River & Northwestern Railway enabled Chitina to develop into a thriving community by 1914. It had a general store, clothing store, meat market, stables, tinsmith, five hotels, rooming houses, pool hall, bars, restaurants, dance halls, and movie theater. Almost all of Chitina was owned by Otto Adrian Nelson, a surveying engineer for the Kennecott Mines. He supplied electric power to all structures with a unique hydroelectric system. After the mines closed in 1938, support activities moved to the Glennallen area, and Chitina became a virtual ghost town with only the Natives and a few non-Natives staying on. In 1963, the Nelson estate was purchased by "Mudhole" Smith, a pioneer bush pilot, who sold off the town site and buildings.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Chitina. Students are home-schooled or attend school at Kenny Lake, 28 miles away. Most Athabascan residents are involved in subsistence activities year-round. During the summer, subsistence dipnetting for salmon on the Copper River brings a large number of Alaskans from Anchorage and other areas of the state. Gardening, berry picking, herb gathering, and other "wildcrafting" are popular pursuits, as are various arts and crafts. Winter activities include trapping, snow machining, dog mushing, skiing and skijoring, and ice fishing.

According to Census 2010, there were 96 housing units in the community and 52 were occupied. Its population was 19.8 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 64.3 percent white; 15.9 percent of the local residents had multi-racial backgrounds. Additionally, 2.4 percent of the population was of Hispanic decent.


Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care

Residents haul water from a well at the fire hall or have individual wells. Some residents use stream water during the summer. Outhouses and individual septic systems provide sewage disposal. Less than 20% of homes are completely plumbed. Refuse collection services are available from Copper Basin Sanitation. Electricity is provided by Chitina Electric Incorporated. There are schools located in the community, Local hospitals or health clinics include Chitina Clinic Copper Center Clinic Cross Road Medical Center in Glennallen.  Emergency Services have river highway and air access and are provided by volunteers and a health aide Auxiliary health care is provided by Copper River EMS Council (907-822-3671) Copper Center Clinic or Cross Road Medical Center in Glennallen.



Employment is primarily with the village council, Village Corporation, or the National Park Service. Many residents are self-employed or work in retail establishments. The summer influx of fishermen, tourists, and campers provides some cash income in fish guiding and other services. Many villagers participate in subsistence activities year-round. In 2011, one resident held a commercial fishing permit.

The 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) estimated 51 residents as employed. The public sector employed 39.2% of all workers. The local unemployment rate was 15.0%. The percentage of workers not in labor force was 45.9%1. The ACS surveys established that average median household income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $13,802 (MOE +/-$3,123). The per capita income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $16,058 (MOE +/-$6,549)1. About 25.8% of all residents had incomes below the poverty level. 




The Edgerton Highway and Richardson Highway link Chitina with the rest of the state road system. The state owns the Chitina Airport, with a 2,850' long by 75' wide gravel airstrip, 5 miles north of town along the Edgerton Highway.

Organizations with Local Offices

Community Non Profit - Community Improvement Association of Chitina
P.O. Box 2
Chitina, AK 99566
Phone 907-823-2270

Economic Development - Chamber of Commerce - Chitina Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 54
Chitina, AK 99566
Phone 907-259-2239

Electric Utility - Chitina Electric, Incorporated
P.O. Box 88
Chitina, AK 99566-0088
Phone 907-823-2220
Fax 907-823-2202

Tribe - federally recognized - Native Village of Chitina
P.O. Box 31
Chitina, AK 99566-0031
Phone 907-823-2215
Fax 907-823-2233

Village Corporation - Chitina Native Corporation
P.O. Box 3
Chitina, AK 99566-0031
Phone 907-823-2223
Fax 907-823-2202


Regional Organizations

School District - Copper River School District
P.O. Box 108
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone 907-822-3234
Fax 907-822-3949

Regional Native Corporation - Ahtna, Incorporated
P.O. Box 649
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone 907-822-3476
Fax 907-822-3495

Regional Native Health Corporation - Copper River Native Association
Mile 104 Old Richardson Highway, P.O. Box H
Copper Center, AK 99573
Phone 907-822-5241
Fax 907-822-8803

Native Housing Authority - Copper River Basin Regional Housing Authority
P.O. Box 89
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone 907-822-3633
Fax 907-822-3662

Regional Development - Copper Valley Development Association
P.O. Box 9
Glennallen,  99588
Phone 907-822-5001
Fax 907-822-5009


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