2nd Class City
in the Bethel Census Area
- Area Type
- Current Population
- Population Comment
- 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate
- Pronunciation/Other Names
- (kweth' luk)
- Census Designated Place (CDP)
- Borough/Census Area FIPS Code
- Place FIPS
Election, Recording, and Judicial Districts
- Senate District
- House District
- Judicial District
- Recording District
Facilities and Amenities
- Municipal Facilities & Utilities
- Watering Point, Honey Bucket Hauling, Washeteria, Refuse Collection, Landfill, Volunteer Fire, Bingo, Roads, Equipment Rental, Planning & Zoning, and Police
Geography and Climate
- Kwethluk is a Yup'ik community located 12 air miles east of Bethel on the Kwethluk River at the junction with the Kuskokuok Slough of the Kuskokwim River. It is the second largest community along the Lower Kuskokwim River.
- Community Map Available
- Map URL
- Sq Mi Land
- Sq Mi Water
- Kwethluk's annual precipitation averages 16 inches, with snowfall of 50 inches. Summer temperatures average from 42 to 62 °F; winter averages are -2 to 19 °F. Extremes have been recorded from -46 to 86 °F. The Kuskokwim is typically ice-free from June through October.
History and Culture
- Archaeological finds indicate that the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The name Kwethluk is derived from from the Yup'ik word Kuiggluk," meaning "dangerous river." In the late 1860s and early 1870s Russian Othodox missionaries from Russian Mission founded a small congregation. The Moravian Church built a chapel in 1896 and a Russian Orthodox church was built in 1912. Discovery of gold in nearby creeks in 1909 attracted prospectors until 1911. Only one placer deposit, discovered on the upper Kwethluk River, delivered a small yield and was mined until World War II. A Moravian orphanage, located three miles up river, provided children services between 1930 and the early 1970s. In 1939, the villagers owned 31,000 reindeers and harvested the herd for food and skins. The tuberculosis epidemic of the late 1930s impacted the local population. The community has a post office since 1947, and a store since 1948. The city was incorporated in 1975.
- Kwethluk is predominantly a Yup'ik Eskimo village that practices a subsistence lifestyle.
- Indigenous Language
- Central Yup'ik
- Federally Recognized Tribe
- Name of Federally Recognized Tribe
- Organized Village of Kwethluk
- Local Option Restrictions
- Ban sale and importation of alcohol.
- Incorporation Type
- 2nd Class City
- Public Education
- Not permitted to provide this service.
- Planning, Platting and Land Use Regulation
- Not required to exercise the powers in any circumstance, but may be permitted in all cases in the manner described for first class cities.
- Property Tax Powers
- May tax up to 20 mills, except where a higher levy is required to avoid default. Voter approval required.
- Sales Tax Powers
- No limit on the rate of levy of sales taxes; however, voter approval is required.
- Other Powers Not Prohibited
- May exercise other powers not prohibited by law.
- City Council or Assembly Composition and Apportionment
- 7 members elected at-large, except the council may provide for election other than at-large.
- Election and Term of Mayor
- Elected from the city council for a 1-year term, unless a longer term is provided by ordinance. Mayor selected by council (or by voters upon adoption of ordinance).
- Vote by Mayor
- Votes on all matters.
- Veto Power of the Mayor
- Does not have veto power.
- Power of Eminent Domain
- Permitted, but requires voter approval.
- Ability to Attain Home-Rule Status
- May not adopt home-rule charter without first reclassifying to a first-class city.
- Kwethluk is dependent on air transportation for year-round movement of freight and passengers. A state-owned gravel airstrip and seaplane base are available. Barge services deliver cargo during the summer. There are no docking facilities. Snow machines, ATVs, and skiffs are used for local travel, and the river becomes an ice road during winter. Winter trails are marked to Eek (45 mi), Three Step Mountain (55 mi), and Columbia Creek (49 mi).
- State Ferry
- Cargo Barge
- Road Connection