The History of Birch Creek

The village is located along Birch Creek, approximately 26 miles southwest of Fort Yukon. It lies at approximately 66 15' N Latitude, 145 48' W Longitude (Sec. 28, T017N, R009E, Fairbanks Meridian). The community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area encompasses 10 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

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 Ft. 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 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's Bay fish camp. Several years later, he was joined by other extended family members. In about 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.


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History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development