Birch Creek

Quick Facts

  • Other Names a.k.a. Dendu Gwich’in Tribe
  • Current Population 31 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)
  • Legislative Districts (link to State Legislature page):
    • Senate District T
    • House District 39
    • Judicial District 4
  • Latitude: 66.2562
  • Longitude: -145.8497


The village is located along Birch Creek, approximately 26 miles southwest of Fort Yukon.


Birch Creek has a continental subarctic climate, characterized by seasonal extremes of temperature. Winters are long and harsh, and summers are warm and short. The average high temperature during July ranges from 65 to 72 °F. The average low temperature during January is well below zero. Extended periods of -50 to -60 °F are common. Extreme temperatures have been measured, ranging from a low of -71 to a high of 97 °F. Annual precipitation averages 6.5 inches, and snowfall averages 43.4 inches per year. Birch Creek is ice-free from mid-June to mid-October.


The Dendu Gwich’in traditionally occupied much of the Yukon Flats south of the Yukon River, including portions of the Crazy and White Mountains. Semi-permanent camps existed near the present village. The first written reference to a settlement in the Birch Creek area was in 1862 by a Fort Yukon clergyman who visited a camp established to provide fish for Hudson’s Bay Company in Ft. Yukon.

Some anthropologists believe that this band was annihilated by scarlet fever in the 1880s, though there are ethnographic accounts of the use of this area from 1867 onwards. Birch Creek Jimmy was the founder of Birch Creek and was great chief among the chiefs in his days. He built a cabin in 1898 at the site of the Hudson Bay fish camp. Several years later, he was joined by other extended family members.

Around 1916, the group moved three miles upstream to the site of the present village. It was used as a seasonal base for harvest activities until the early 1950s, when the establishment of a school encouraged village residents to adopt a less nomadic way of life. The first airstrip was constructed in 1973. The school was closed in 1999 due to insufficient students.


Local residents are Dendu Gwich’in Athabascans and are active in subsistence practices.

Community profile data provided by the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.