The History of Tetlin

Tetlin is located along the Tetlin River, between Tetlin Lake and the Tanana River, 20 miles southeast of Tok. It lies in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The village is not connected by road to the Alaska Highway. It lies at approximately 63 08' N Latitude, 142 31' W Longitude (Sec. 29, T018N, R015E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area encompasses 153 sq. miles of land and 16 sq. miles of water.

The semi-nomadic Athabascan Indians have historically lived in this area, moving with the seasons between several hunting and fishing camps. In 1885, Lt. H.T. Allen found small groups of people living in Tetlin and Last Tetlin, to the south. The residents of Last Tetlin had made numerous trips to trading posts on the Yukon River. In 1912, villagers from Tetlin would trade at the Tanana Crossing Trading Post. During the Chisana gold stampede in 1913, a trading post was established across the river from Tetlin. When two trading posts were opened in the village during the 1920s by John Hajdukovich and W.H. Newton, residents from Last Tetlin relocated to Tetlin. A school was constructed in 1929, and a post office was opened in 1932. The 786,000-acre Tetlin Indian Reserve was established in 1930. An airstrip was constructed in 1946. When the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was passed in 1971, the reserve was revoked. Tetlin opted for surface and subsurface title to the 743,000 acres of land in the former Reserve.


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