The area around Northway was first utilized by semi-nomadic Athabascans who pursued seasonal subsistence activities in the vicinity of Scottie and Gardiner Creeks and Chisana, Nabesna, and Tanana Rivers. Their first contacts with white people probably occurred in the late 1880s during periodic trips to trading posts along the Yukon River. White traders entered the region as early as 1912, and by the 1920s, had established trading posts at Gardiner Creek and along the Nabesna River. Nabesna, the first settlement in the area, was located across the Nabesna River from the site now occupied by Northway Village.
Flooding led to the abandonment of Nabesna in the 1940s. Residence at the new site provided Native workers with construction jobs on the Alaska Highway and at the Northway airfield during World War II. A post office was first established in 1941. In 1942, the name of the village was changed to Northway to honor the village chief, T'aiy Ta', who had adopted the name Northway from a riverboat captain who traveled the Tanana and Nabesna Rivers in the early 1900s. Chief Walter Northway was thought to be 117 years old at the time of his death in 1993.
To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online
History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development