Metlakatla, Alaska

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This article is about the Metlakatla in Alaska. For "Old Metlakatla" in British Columbia, see Metlakatla, British Columbia.
Metlakatla, Alaska
CDP
Location of Metlakatla, Alaska
Location of Metlakatla, Alaska
Coordinates: 55°7′37″N 131°34′35″W / 55.12694°N 131.57639°W / 55.12694; -131.57639Coordinates: 55°7′37″N 131°34′35″W / 55.12694°N 131.57639°W / 55.12694; -131.57639
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough Unorganized
Census Area Prince of Wales-Hyder
Government
 • State senator Bert Stedman (R)
 • State rep. Dan Ortiz (I)
Area
 • Total 2.3 sq mi (6.1 km2)
 • Land 2.3 sq mi (6.0 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 3 ft (1 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 1,375
 • Density 593.4/sq mi (229.1/km2)
Time zone AKST (UTC-9)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)
ZIP code 99926
Area code(s) 907
FIPS code 02-48870
GNIS feature ID 1423661

Metlakatla /ˌmɛtləˈkætlə/ (Tsimshian: Maaxłakxaała "Saltwater pass") is a census-designated place (CDP) on Annette Island in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 1,375; this had grown to 1,405 by the 2010 census.

Since the late 19th century, it has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only remaining reservation in Alaska. The Metlakatla voted to opt out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of the 1970s and retained rights to their land and waters. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage; it is comprised primarily of Tsimshian people.

History[edit]

Metlakatla as it appeared in the 1890s.

Metlakatla comes from Maxłakxaała, a Tsimshian word meaning "Salt Water Passage." Metlakatla was named after another village of the same name ("Old Metlakatla") in British Columbia, which is on Metlakatla Pass, near Prince Rupert. In a more ancient time, it was a Tlingit hunting ground known as Taquan. The Tsimshian were granted permission to own the land by Chief Johnson of the Tlingit tribe.

Metlakahtla Christian Mission Church, early 20th century

In 1886, William Duncan, an English tannery employee and lay member of the Church Missionary Society,[1] had a doctrinal dispute with the Church authorities in Metlakatla, B.C. He and a devoted group of Tsimshian followers decided to leave Metlakatla. Duncan went to Washington, D.C., in the United States and asked the U.S. government to give his group land in Alaska. The U.S. under President Cleveland gave them Annette Island after a Tsimshian search committee in seagoing canoes discovered its calm bay, accessible beaches, nearby waterfall, and abundant fish.[2]

View of Metlakahtla, Alaska in 1889.

In 1887 the group arrived on the island and built a settlement in the Port Chester area. They laid out the town in a European-style grid pattern. It contained a church, a school, a tannery, and a sawmill. They named the town New Metlakatla, after the town they had left behind, but later dropped the "New." In 1888, William Duncan returned to Washington and lobbied the U.S. Congress for an Indian reservation on Annette Island. Although the reservation system had not been used in Alaska, Congress granted his request in 1891. Duncan remained at Metlakatla until his death in 1918.

A group of Tsimshian at a Metlakatla wedding, c. 1900

During World War II, the United States made a treaty with the Metlakatla Indian Community to permit construction and operation of a military airbase on Annette Island. In exchange, the US promised to build a road connecting the ocean-side city to Alaska's Inside Passage (in order to allow year-round ferry service to Ketchikan). The airfield on Annette Island was garrisoned by Canadians during the war. This airfield became "the first Canadian force ever based in U.S. territory to directly assist in American defense."

After the war the property was adapted as a United States Coast Guard search and rescue base.[3] This airfield served the area commercially until the 1970s, when the new Ketchikan Airport was built at Gravina Island in the Inside Passage.

Annette Islands Reserve, including surrounding islands, today comprise the only Indian reservation in Alaska. In the 1970s, the Metlakatla did not accept the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and give up their reserve.[4] "Annette Islands Reserve consists of 132,000 acres of land and water base. Metlakatla Indian Community has exclusive commercial and subsistence fishing rights to the islands’ waterways extending from 3,000 feet at mean low tide."[4]

Travelers into Metlakatla usually reach it the Alaska Marine Highway ferry. They can also travel to Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Island and cross the Revillagigedo Channel to Annette Island by boat or seaplane.

More than 50 years after the end of WWII, in 1997 the US began construction of the cross-island road promised to the Metlakatla under its wartime treaty. From 1997 to 2007, a joint task force under the overall command of Alaska Command, and led by the Missouri Army National Guard, worked at constructing a 15-mile road from one side of Annette Island to the other. Members of the Active and Reserve components of the Army, Navy, United States Air Force, and the Marines deployed to the island on 2- to 3-week rotations to build the road.[5]

Geography and climate[edit]

Metlakatla is located at 55°7′37″N 131°34′35″W / 55.12694°N 131.57639°W / 55.12694; -131.57639 (55.126916, −131.576393).[6] It is on the Port Chester harbor, on Annette Island, about 25 km (16 mi) south of Ketchikan.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), of which, 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.85%) is water.

Metlakatla has a Marine west coast climate (Köppen Cfb), with windy and wet weather year-round, cool winters, and mild summers, and straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 and 8.[7] Due to its southerly and maritime location, with an annual mean temperature of 46.6 °F (8.1 °C), the town is one of the warmest locations statewide. Most days during the winter see precipitation fall, and the seasonal total snowfall of 33.5 inches (85 cm) occurs mostly from November to March, with some accumulation during April and falls in May and October relatively rare; warm spells raise the high to 50 °F (10 °C) for several days each month. During summer, there is an average of 17 days with 70 °F (21 °C)+ highs, and rain still falls on around half of the days. Precipitation averages more than 101 inches (2.57 m) annually, with June and July being the driest months and October and November the wettest. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −4 °F (−20 °C) on January 30, 1947 up to 93 °F (34 °C) on June 19, 2004, with the temperature having fallen below 0 °F (−18 °C) only on a handful of occasions. In addition, the Annette Island Airport holds the Alaska state monthly record high temperatures for April (82 °F or 28 °C on April 29, 1976) and November (67 °F or 19 °C on November 1, 1970).[8]


Climate data for Annette Island Airport, Alaska (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 61
(16)
65
(18)
64
(18)
82
(28)
88
(31)
93
(34)
90
(32)
90
(32)
82
(28)
71
(22)
67
(19)
62
(17)
93
(34)
Average high °F (°C) 41.6
(5.3)
42.7
(5.9)
44.9
(7.2)
50.2
(10.1)
56.3
(13.5)
61.1
(16.2)
64.3
(17.9)
64.7
(18.2)
59.3
(15.2)
51.6
(10.9)
44.6
(7)
41.5
(5.3)
51.9
(11.1)
Average low °F (°C) 32.4
(0.2)
32.7
(0.4)
34.5
(1.4)
38.2
(3.4)
44.0
(6.7)
49.2
(9.6)
52.9
(11.6)
53.1
(11.7)
48.4
(9.1)
41.9
(5.5)
35.4
(1.9)
32.8
(0.4)
41.3
(5.2)
Record low °F (°C) −4
(−20)
2
(−17)
1
(−17)
3
(−16)
30
(−1)
37
(3)
40
(4)
40
(4)
30
(−1)
18
(−8)
−3
(−19)
1
(−17)
−4
(−20)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 10.73
(272.5)
7.30
(185.4)
8.04
(204.2)
6.77
(172)
5.56
(141.2)
4.88
(124)
4.64
(117.9)
6.95
(176.5)
9.79
(248.7)
13.92
(353.6)
12.29
(312.2)
10.72
(272.3)
101.61
(2,580.9)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 7.8
(19.8)
7.0
(17.8)
6.5
(16.5)
1.4
(3.6)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.1
(0.3)
3.3
(8.4)
7.4
(18.8)
33.5
(85.1)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 22.1 17.6 21.6 18.8 15.9 15.4 14.9 15.8 18.7 23.6 23.6 23.0 231.0
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 5.4 4.5 4.7 1.6 0.2 0 0 0 0 0.1 2.8 4.6 23.9
Source: NOAA (extremes 1941–present)[9][10]


Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 465
1910 602 29.5%
1920 574 −4.7%
1940 700
1960 800
1970 1,100 37.5%
1980 1,100 0.0%
1990 1,400 27.3%
2000 1,375 −1.8%
2010 1,405 2.2%
source:[11]

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 1,375 people, 469 households, and 338 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 593.4 people per square mile (228.8/km²). There were 531 housing units at an average density of 229.2/sq mi (88.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 9.53% White, 0.22% Black or African American, 81.82% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.51% from other races, and 7.85% from two or more races. 1.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 469 households out of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.0% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.93 and the average family size was 3.50.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 33.1% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 21.6% from 45 to 64, and 7.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 108.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.0 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $43,516, and the median income for a family was $49,671. Males had a median income of $36,696 versus $22,292 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $16,140. About 7.7% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.

Education[edit]

In 2007, Richard Johnson Elementary School in Metlakatla was named a National Blue Ribbon School.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Church Missionary Atlas (British Columbia)". Adam Matthew Digital. 1896. pp. 227–232. Retrieved 19 October 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ "Community Origins." Metlakatla Indian Community. 2005. Web. Retrieved 24 Aug. 2011.
  3. ^ Lundberg, Murray. "Annette Island, Alaska in World War II." Explore North. 2009. Web. Retrieved 24 Aug. 2011.
  4. ^ a b Dennis Zotigh, "Audrey Hudson: NMAI’s Meet Native America Series", Indian Country Today, 26 June 2016; accessed 27 June 2016
  5. ^ Fact Sheet, "Operation Alaska Road,", Elmendorf Air Force Base; retrieved 06 February 2008
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ http://www.arborday.org/treeinfo/ZoneInfo.cfm?ZipCode=99926&submit=Look+it+up%21
  8. ^ All-time Statewide Daily Temperature Extremes
  9. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  10. ^ "Station Name: AK ANNETTE ISLAND AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ "2007 No Child Left Behind - Blue Ribbon Schools: All Public Elementary Schools" (PDF). US Department of Education. Retrieved March 1, 2011. 

External links[edit]