Hughes & Huslia

View of the main street in Hughes, May 2010.

View of the main street in Hughes,
May 2010.

Hughes (Hut'odleekkaakk'et Tribe) is located on the Koyukuk River, about 210 air miles northwest of Fairbanks. Huslia (Ts’aateyhdenaade kk’onh Denh in the Koyukon language) is about 65 miles downstream of Hughes. Both are Koyukon Athabascan communities. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the community of Hughes was named in 1910 after New York Governor Charles Hughes. Hughes was a supply port for the nearby Indian River gold fields until 1915 when the mining industry declined. The local Native people continued to live there, establishing a post office in 1942, and building an airstrip in the 1950s. The city was incorporated in 1973.

Elders from Hughes and Huslia at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, November 11, 2010

Elders from Hughes and Huslia at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, November 11, 2010

In September 1994, flood waters destroyed and swept away nearly all of the community's buildings, homes, and food caches for the winter. Residents eventually rebuilt. Huslia was established at its present location in 1949, when residents of Cutoff moved four miles south because of frequent flooding. Cutoff was the site of a trading post established in the 1920s. Huslia (originally spelled Huslee) was named after a local stream. By the 1950s, families began to live year round in Huslia, and the city was incorporated in 1969. Traditional ways of life persist, and the communities remain dependent upon subsistence activities. The 2011 population of Hughes was estimated at 78, and of Huslia at 299.

Rose Ambrose and Lillian Simon taking a closer look at the Koyukon Native Place Names map in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, November 10, 2010.

Rose Ambrose and Lillian Simon taking a closer look at the Koyukon Native Place Names map in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, November 10, 2010.

Elders from Hughes and Huslia visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks from November 7-11, 2010 to look at collections and decide what they most wanted to have accessible online. Bill and Madeline Williams, Ella Sam, Rita Koyukuk, June Walker, Kitty Oldman, and Janet Bifelt from Hughes, and Rose Ambrose, George “Butch” Yaska, Marie Yaska, Yolanda Sophie Sam, Cecilia Nollner, Annie Vent, Lillian Simon, and Janette Vent from Huslia looked at a Koyukon place name map and photos in the Bertha Moses, Alice Lynch, and Episcopal Church Collections in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.

Enjoying the Koyukon Athabascan language material at the Alaska Native Language Archive, November 12, 2010.

Enjoying the Koyukon Athabascan language material at the Alaska Native Language Archive, November 12, 2010.

They watched film of 1973 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) D-2 Land Hearings and the 1983 “Make Prayers to the Raven” series from the Alaska Film Archives. They looked at beaded items and stone artifacts at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and reviewed Native language material at the Alaska Native Language Archive. Several of these collections are now available online and accessible through this portal.

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