Kiana, which translates into English as “place where three rivers meet,” sits on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kobuk and Squirrel Rivers in northwestern Alaska, about 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Kiana is 57 air miles east of Kotzebue.
Kiana was founded several centuries ago as the central village of the Kobuk River Kowagmiut Iñupiat Eskimos. In 1909, Kiana became a key supply post for placer mines along the Squirrel River. Its post office was established in 1915. Kiana was incorporated in 1964.
The population of Kiana has nearly quadrupled during the last 80 years from 98 residents in 1920 to around 363 today. 90.4 percent of Kiana residents are Iñupiat Eskimos.
Kiana is incorporated as a second-class city under the laws of the State of Alaska, and is within the boundaries of the Northwest Arctic Borough. The Indian Reorganization Act tribal government is known as the Native Village of Kiana.
CLIMATE AND TOPOGRAPHY
Winter temperatures in Kiana range from 10 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit) to 15 degrees above. Summer temperatures average from 40 to 60 degrees. Temperature extremes have been recorded from 54 degrees below zero to 87 degrees above. Snowfall averages 60 inches per year, rainfall 16 inches. The Kobuk River is navigable by boat and barges from late May to early October. The river is frozen the remainder of the year, which allows for snowmachine travel between the villages.
TRANSPORTATION SERVICES AND FACILITIES
Air – The Bob Baker Memorial Airport, a 3,400' long by 100' wide lighted gravel runway, is one of 256 airports owned and maintained by State of Alaska Department of Transportaion & Public Facilities, as part of the largest aviation system in North America. There are daily scheduled passenger flights to Kotzebue, Selawik and Noorvik. Some flights that go to the upriver villages like Ambler, Shungnak and Kobuk will stop in Kiana for pick up or drop off if needed. A round-trip ticket to Kotzebue costs around $290 with Era Alaska and around $324 with Bering Air, to Noorvik around $160 with Era Alaska and around $180 with Bering Air. Air cargo rates on Bering Air from Kotzebue range from 90 cents per pound for loads exceeding 5000 pounds to $1.05 per pound for loads weighing fewer than 500 pounds. The air cargo rates on Era Alaska from Kotzebue range from 85 cents per pound for both excess luggage and freight with a minimum of $32.
Land – Cars, trucks, ATVs and snowmachines are used extensively for local and regional travel between villages and for subsistence activities. A dirt road allows downriver access to Kobuk Camp, a fishing and berry harvesting summer camp. A anetwork of old trading paths extends from Kiana to the surrounding region. During the winter there is an ice road created for automobile access to Noorvik, AK and Kotzebue, AK.
Water/Marine – Crowley Marine Services barges fuel and supplies during summer months. Local storeowners transport cargo to upriver villages including Ambler and Shungnak on large motorboats. Smaller boats are used for subsistence activities, inter-village travel and recreation.
Northland Services estimates the following costs for delivery of these sample shipments from Anchorage, AK:
Dry Groceries/ cubic foot
Dry Groceries/per 100 lbs.
1 – Auto rate based on dimensions not exceeding 19’x84”x90” (LxWxH)
2 – Household goods rate based on 20’ container, shipper load count and secure minimum weight of 10,000 lbs.
3 – Groceries estimated as 1 pallet (4'Lx4'Wx4'H) weighing 1500 lbs.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL SERVICES
Water – A pair of large riverbank wells provide the public water supply for Kiana. Periodically water is pumped from the wells to a 200,000 insulated steel holding tank where it’s chlorinated and then distributed throughout the community via buried water mains. More than 92 percent of Kiana households are connected to the water lines and fully plumbed, as are the health clinic, school and community hall. The rest haul water.
Sewer – Wastewater is drained from households by an underground gravity sewer system to a lift station and then pumped through a buried force mainline to a sewage treatment lagoon located northeast of town. About 8 percent of Kiana households are not connected to the sewer system and rely instead on honeybuckets or septic tanks.
Solid Waste Disposal – Kiana residents individually haul their refuse to a solid waste disposal site a short distance west of the sewage lagoon.
Public Safety – Kiana is in the service area of the State of Alaska State Troopers detachment based in Kotzebue. There is not currently a Village Public Safety Officer stationed in Kiana. The City of Kiana does employ a Village Patrol Officer to enforce curfew and respond to emergencies.
OTHER SERVICES AND UTILITIES
Health Services – The Kiana Clinic, which is operated and maintained by Maniilaq Association, provides routine check-ups and basic medical care. Emergency services and treatment for serious medical problems require transport to Kotzebue by plane.
Electricity – The Alaska Village Electric Co-Op provides electricity to Kiana through diesel generators with a peak capacity of 1,163 Kilowatts. Monthly residential rates factoring in the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) subsidy are $0.2202 per kilowatt-hour for the first 1-500 kWh, $0.6443 per kilowatt-hour for 501-700 kWh per month and $0.5443 per kilowatt-hour for every kWh per month over 700. Small commercial rates are $0.6443 per kilowatt-hour for the first 1-700 kWh per month and $0.5443 per kilowatt-hour for every kWh exceeding 700.
Telecommunications – Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone Cooperative provides in-state telephone service to Kiana residents and businesses, and long-distance service is provided through a combination of AT&T, Anchorage-based GCI and Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone. Internet service is provided through Inutek.net, a cooperative effort between OTZ, Maniilaq Association and Anchorage-based GCI Communications.
|Basic local service (single landline) - Includes taxes, fees. Additional charges for optional features||
Access Line/Residential: $16.55
Federally Mandated Per Access Line: $6.50
Inside Wire Charge: $1.60
Universal Single Line: $0.01
Federal Tax: 3%
Business Phone (Access) Line: $24.50
Federally Mandated Per Access Line: $9.20
Inside Wire Charge: $2.25
Universal Single Line: $0.20
Local Tax: 6%
Federal Tax: 3%
|Long distance||$.07/minute + $5 monthly fee||$.09/minute no monthly charge|
|Cellular phone service||OTZ cell service does not work in Kiana. (GCI cell service does)|
64/ 64 Kbps Internet Service Plan
512/ 64 Kbps Internet Service Plan
|*Internet service discounts are provided to customers with OTZ long distance and/or cellular phone plans.|
SCHOOLS – The Kiana School is a pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade facility attended by 115 to 120 students per year. The school employs 10 teachers, depending upon enrollment and teacher availability. Post-secondary education is available in Kiana through online classes provided by Chukchi Campus, a rural division of the University of Alaska.
MEDIA – Kiana residents get cable service via Dish Network. Kiana residents also receive news and community information via the Kotzebue-based radio station KOTZ-AM. The use of Citizens Band radio was once widespread, now Very High Frequency radio use is prevalent throughout the region. The Arctic Sounder, a regional newspaper, is delivered to stores, the school and local subscribers.
Though augmented by cash, the Kiana economy depends primarily upon traditional subsistence activities. Important food sources include moose, caribou, waterfowl, berries and Chum salmon. There are three general stores in Kiana, plus a hunting and fishing lodge. The school, the City of Kiana, Maniilaq Association and Red Dog Mine collectively employ around 80 Kiana residents in full-time, year-round jobs. Other Kiana residents work part-time and/or seasonally for the Bureau of Land Management (firefighting), the Northwest Iñupiat Housing Authority, the fishing lodge, a charter fishing company, Crowley Marine Services and small jade mining operations. Two residents hold commercial fishing permits.
There are roughly 165 housing structures in Kiana. About 96 of them are occupied. All but a few trailers and duplexes are single-family dwellings. The median home value in Kiana is $145,300.