Aerial view of Kiana and the Kobuk River.
Location in Northwest Arctic Borough and the state of Alaska.
|Incorporated||June 30, 1964|
|• Mayor||Daniel Douglas|
|• Total||0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)|
|• Land||0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||92 ft (28 m)|
|Time zone||Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)|
|• Summer (DST)||AKDT (UTC-8)|
Kiana, meaning where three rivers meet, was founded several centuries ago. Before Kiana became a village, the Inupiat Eskimos tended to travel with certain animal herds; constantly hunting for meat and furs.
In the 1800s, the Inupiaqs of Kiana used to live along the Kobuk River. Throughout the year the villagers would hunt and fish near their houses. They moved to where there was an abundance of animals and fish. The Inupiaqs lived in sod houses, and did not live in them twice, because they would move to where the animals were.
When someone died inside the house they abandoned it, believing they would catch a contagious disease. Instead of building coffins or digging graves, the villagers wrapped the bodies of the deceased in cloths and put poles in them to make a teepee shape.
Early 20th Century
The first white men came up with boats in 1898 and changed the way of life. They settled in where is now Kiana. More white men came in 1901 and 1902, and started building houses. Inupiaq women moved to them and married them.
Archaeologists have discovered a pre-contact Inupaiq village near Kiana. From carbon dating, the archaeologists discovered the village was from the late 1700s to the early 1800s. When more digging was done, they found that some of the houses they excavated were connected with tunnels and passage ways. The average house size in the village was about the size of typical one-roomed cabins. Some of the artifacts that were found include metal fragments and shards, as well as glass beads.
Kiana is the central village of the Kobuk river, for Kowagmiut Inupaiq Eskimos. Kiana became known to the Federal Government after a population increase, eventually making the town in to a city, in the year 1915. A United States Post Office was founded in the year 1964.
Before the post office was built, mail came only once a month. The mail transportation method was mainly by dogsled or by walking from one village to another. During this time, Kiana became a key supply city for coal and gold miners who were posted along the Squirrel River. The Blankenship Trading Post was the only store with goods, such as: flour, salt, soda pop, coffee, tea, sugar, as well as, canned and dried fruit.
The first villages in the region to start teaching the Inupiaq language in public school were Ambler, Shungnak, and Kobuk. Then Noorvik and the other villages around the region began teaching it as well. Viola Barr and Rosaline Jackson were the first people in Kiana to teach Inupiaq language as a class in 1971. Before white people came to the region, the children of Kiana grew up speaking Inupiaq language. They did not have to learn the language in school because they learned what the words meant just by the native people speaking the language. The children grew up listening to the words and knew what the Inupiaq words meant already. The region is trying to get the language back to speak Inupiaq and make the Elders of Kiana proud. Rosetta Stone and the Inupiaq Language Commission are helping this effort. Most Kiana students and adults don’t know how to read, write, or speak the Inupiaq language.
Kiana is located at (66.971720, -160.430168).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2), all of it land.
The village of Kiana is located where three rivers meet: the Squirrel River, Kobuk River, and big/small channel rivers. Kiana is in the Northwestern Alaska, 30 miles North of the Arctic Circle, and 57 air miles East of Kotzebue.
In Kiana, there are of frequent storms and extreme temperature swings. There is also evidence of climate change occurring in the past 50 years. Evidence of rising temperatures each month, and increased precipitation (except July) has also been recorded.
The snowfall is significant, at about 60 inches per year, and the rainfall is 16 inches on average. The Kobuk River is navigable by boat from May to October, and frozen for the remainder of the year.
As of 2013, the total population in Kiana was 361, 101 occupied households, and 77 families. Average people per household: 3.
The median income for a household in 2011, was $39,688, and the median income for a family was $41,667. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $35,938 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,534. About 5.6% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.
People in Community
|Native American||White||Hispanic||African American||2 or More Races|
Kiana has a City Administrator who is ultimately responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facilities and to carry out the vision and the mission that is set forth by the City Council and the Mayor who are both elected by the people. The mayor’s responsibility is to help set the focus of the Council.
Tom Cyrus was mayor of Kiana for 7 years; from 2003 to 2010. During that time, the city and traditional council worked very closely. They decided to merge the two governments and formed a joint council since they were working with very similar visions and missions. It was a very unique organization that held joint council meetings and planning sessions. They had: one executive director, one accountant, and a city clerk. All administrative positions were moved into one building and they were able to streamline costs by not duplicating services. At that particular period of time, there was not a lot funding available to municipal governments and there were more opportunities for monies through BIA funds and tribal government.
In 2009, the goals began to change and it was decided to separate the two governments. Overall, this helped the community and both the city and traditional governments were financially solvent again.
Some of the issues that the mayor deals with on a weekly basis is help to look for funding, the water and sewer plant, village power, wildlife in the community and the behavior of community members. The mayor often gets phone calls that deal with a variety of issues. The Mayor also has to deal with helping the council and community with long range planning.
Kiana's current mayor, Brad Reich, became mayor when Tom Cyrus resigned in 2009. The full resignation took a year, and Brad become mayor.
There are many types and uses of transportation in and around Kiana, and include travel over both land and water.
The types of land transportation used by the people in Kiana are ATV's, cars, trucks, and snow machines. They are used for a variety of reasons such as for getting around the village and just riding around.
Some vehicles are used to travel between villages. In the winter, an ice road is usually plowed or formed on the Kobuk River from Kiana to Noorvik, and extends all the way to Kotzebue. In the summer, the people of Kiana use the same routes on motor boats to get to other villages. In both seasons, people use bush airplanes such as Bering Air and Ravn Air to get to all other villages in the region.
The barge system that services Kiana is Crowley Marine Services. This system goes to Kiana every summer, bringing gas, fuel, and other useful products. Store owners use large boats to ship goods upriver.
Cost of transportation is very significant. For example, the costs of gas and reservations to go on a bush plane are very high. Bering Air costs are : round trip to Kotzebue $324, and to Noorvik $180. With Ravn Air:Round trip to Kotzebue is $240, and to Noorvik $160. The gas prices vary : at the Kiana City Office, it costs $7.21,with tax, for one gallon of gas. At Lee’s Sea Air (store in Kiana), it's $12 for one gallon.
- 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 79.
- 2015 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League. 2015. p. 85.
- Black, Inez
-  Daysha Eaton
- (Kiana: Looking Back oral history as told by some of its people and written by Kiana Students)
- [Former Inupiaq Studies teacher. Oral Interview. February 19, 2014 Barr, Viola]
- Helena Barr Former Inupiaq Studies teacher. Oral Interview, February 18, 2014
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- City Data
- Suburban Cities Demographics
- [Cyrus, William. Former Kiana City Mayor. Oral Interview. Feb 24,2014]
- Oral Interview with Kiana City Office. February 18, 2014