Yakutat has a diverse cultural history. The original settlers are believed to have been Eyak-speaking people from the Copper River area who were conquered by the Tlingits. Yakutat means "the place where the canoes rest." In the 18th and 19th centuries, English, French, Spanish, and Russian explorers came to the region. Fur traders were attracted to the region's sea otters. The Russian-American Company built a fort in Yakutat in 1805 to harvest sea otter pelts. Because the Russians would not allow local Tlingits access to their traditional fisheries, a Tlingit war party attacked and destroyed the post. In 1884 the Alaska Commercial Company opened a store in Yakutat. By 1886, the black sand beaches in the area were being mined for gold. In 1889 the Swedish Free Mission Church had opened a school and sawmill in the area. A cannery, sawmill, store, and railroad were constructed beginning in 1903 by the Stimson Lumber Company. Most residents moved to the current site of Yakutat to be closer to the cannery, which operated through 1970. During World War II, a large aviation garrison and paved runway were constructed. Troops were withdrawn after the war, but the runway is still in use.
The area maintains a traditional Tlingit culture with influences from the original Eyak Athabascans, as well as Russian, English and American traders and miners. Fishing and subsistence activities are prevalent.
Location & Climate
Yakutat is isolated among the lowlands along the Gulf of Alaska, 225 miles northwest of Juneau and 220 miles southeast of Cordova. It is at the mouth of Yakutat Bay, one of the few refuges for vessels along this stretch of coast. The Hubbard and Malaspina Glaciers are nearby. Its boundaries are the Canadian border to the north, Cape Suckling to the west, and Cape Fairweather to the east. Yakutat Borough is within and surrounded by the Tongass National Forests, Wrangell St-Elias National Park and Preserve, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. It lies at approximately 59.546940 North Latitude and -139.727220 West Longitude. (Sec. 30, T027S, R034E, Copper River Meridian.) Yakutat is located in the Juneau Recording District. The area encompasses 7,650.5 sq. miles of land and 1,808.8 sq. miles of water. Yakutat has a maritime climate characterized by relatively mild, often rainy weather. Summer temperatures range from 42 to 60 °F and winter temperatures from 17 to 39 °F. Yakutat receives some of the heaviest precipitation in the state, averaging 132 inches of precipitation and 219 inches of snowfall each year.*State of AK, DOT AMHS.
662 (US Census)
Home Rule Borough originally incorporated as a city in 1948 and in 1992 became a borough. The city currently employs 13 lead staff and other support positions. Regular elections are held the 1st Tuesday of October. City Assembly meets the 1st Thursday of every month. The current city sales tax is 4%.
Yakutat Power. Power source: diesel. Kilowatt capacity: 3,505. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.2670 and $0.2420 for above 500 kWh. (JEDC Asset Mapping Report)
Water & Sewer Utilities
$1m upgrade is in progress. Water is derived from four wells, treated and piped to all 191 homes in the community and the schools. Several wooden storage tanks provide pressure to the water system; three need replacement. Piped sewage receives primary treatment; a secondary treatment facility is nearing completion.
A private firm collects refuse, and the Borough operates the landfill.
The State owns two jet-certified runways; one is 6,475' x 150' of concrete, the other is 7,745' x 150' of asphalt. A seaplane base is available 1 mile northwest. The U.S. Forest Service owns five airstrips in the vicinity, and the National Park Service operates one at East Alsek River. The Borough operates the State-owned boat harbor and the Ocean Cape dock. Monti Bay is the only sheltered deep water port in the Gulf of Alaska. New multi-purpose dock to replace floats and planks at small boat harbor has been completed. State operated ferry terminal is also available.
Accessible via major airline, small aircraft, and State-owned Alaska Marine Highway System provides whistle stop service.
Yakutat School District provides K-12 class through the one school in the community. Enrollment in the 2009-10 school year was 111. Student-teacher ratio: 9.3:1.
Yakutat Community Health Center operated by Yakutat Tlingit Tribe. Yakutat Volunteer EMS/Rescue. Community Health Aid Program CHAP site. The clinic is a qualified Emergency Care Center. Emergency service is provided by volunteers and a health aide.
Federally Recognized Tribe
Yakutat Tlingit Tribe. (Village Council; Bureau Of Indian Affairs-Recognized Traditional Council)
Ya-Tat Kwaan, Incorporated
Other Community Buildings
Community Hall/ANB Hall, Yakutat City Hall, School Libraries.
Community Economic Development Projects
A list of Economic Development Projects was not submitted for the 2011 year.