Bethel, Alaska
Overview
 
Bethel is a city located near the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, 340 miles (547.2 km) west of Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

. Accessible only by air and river, Bethel is the main port on the Kuskokwim River
Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River or Kusko River is a river, long, in Southwest Alaska in the United States. It is the ninth largest river in the United States by average discharge volume at its mouth and seventeenth largest by basin drainage area.The river provides the principal drainage for an area of the...

 and is an administrative and transportation hub for the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
The Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta is one of the largest river deltas in the world, roughly the size of Oregon. It is located where the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers empty into the Bering Sea on the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. The delta, which mostly consists of tundra, is protected as part of the...

.

Bethel is the largest community in western Alaska and in the Unorganized Borough
Unorganized Borough
The Unorganized Borough is the part of the U.S. state of Alaska not contained in any of its 18 organized boroughs. It encompasses more than half of Alaska's area, , an area larger than any other US state...

, as well as the 9th largest in the state, with a population estimated to be 6,356 in 2006.
Encyclopedia
Bethel is a city located near the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, 340 miles (547.2 km) west of Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

. Accessible only by air and river, Bethel is the main port on the Kuskokwim River
Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River or Kusko River is a river, long, in Southwest Alaska in the United States. It is the ninth largest river in the United States by average discharge volume at its mouth and seventeenth largest by basin drainage area.The river provides the principal drainage for an area of the...

 and is an administrative and transportation hub for the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
The Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta is one of the largest river deltas in the world, roughly the size of Oregon. It is located where the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers empty into the Bering Sea on the west coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. The delta, which mostly consists of tundra, is protected as part of the...

.

Bethel is the largest community in western Alaska and in the Unorganized Borough
Unorganized Borough
The Unorganized Borough is the part of the U.S. state of Alaska not contained in any of its 18 organized boroughs. It encompasses more than half of Alaska's area, , an area larger than any other US state...

, as well as the 9th largest in the state, with a population estimated to be 6,356 in 2006. Bethel is home to the lone detention center in southwestern Alaska, the Yukon Kuskokwim Correction Center. Bethel is also one of the latest communities in Alaska to opt out of status as a "Local Option" community, theoretically opening the door to allowing alcohol sales in the city, though residents and city officials maintain that all liquor license requests will be actively opposed.

Annual events in Bethel include a noted dogsled race, the Kuskokwim 300, and Camai, a traditional dance festival held each spring.

History

Bethel, at its original location, was a Yup'ik village called Mamterillermiut, meaning "Smokehouse People", after the nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company
Alaska Commercial Company
The Alaska Commercial Company is a company that operated retail stores in Alaska during the early period of Alaska's ownership by the United States. From 1901 to 1992, it was known as the Northern Commercial Company . In 1992, it resumed business as the Alaska Commercial Company under the...

 trading post during the late 19th century. It had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census. The Moravian Church established a mission in the area in 1885, under the leadership of Rev. John Henry Kilbuck
John and Edith Kilbuck
John Henry Kilbuck — sometimes spelled Killbuck — and his wife, Edith Kilbuck, were Moravian missionaries in southwestern Alaska in the late 19th and early 20th centuries....

, Jr. Kilbuck learned Yup'ik
Central Alaskan Yup'ik language
Central Alaskan Yup'ik or just Yup'ik is a Yupik language of the Eskimo language family, in turn a member of the Eskimo–Aleut language group, spoken in western and southwestern Alaska. Both in ethnic population and in number of speakers, Central Alaskan Yup'ik is the largest of the languages...

, which greatly enhanced his effectiveness as a missionary. Missionaries moved Bethel from Mamterillermiut to its present location on the west side of the Kuskokwim River. A United States Post Office was opened in 1905.

Alaska Natives
Alaska Natives
Alaska Natives are the indigenous peoples of Alaska. They include: Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.-History:In 1912 the Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded...

 in this area also have a long Christian history, in part from Russian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, Catholic and Moravian influence. As in many Alaskan villages, Christian tradition has become interwoven with its cultural history.

Geography

Bethel is located at 60°47′32"N 161°45′21"W (60.792222, −161.755833).

According to the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, the city has a total area of 48.8 square miles (126.4 km²). 43.8 square miles (113.4 km²) of it is land and 5.1 square miles (13.2 km²) of it (10.39%) is water.

Though the region is flat and generally treeless, Bethel lies inside the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge
The Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is a United States National Wildlife Refuge covering about in southwestern Alaska. It is the second-largest National Wildlife Refuge in the country, only slightly smaller than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is a coastal plain extending to the...

, the second largest wildlife refuge
Wildlife refuge
A wildlife refuge, also called a wildlife sanctuary, may be a naturally occurring sanctuary, such as an island, that provides protection for species from hunting, predation or competition, or it may refer to a protected area, a geographic territory within which wildlife is protected...

 in the United States.

Climate

Bethel has a subarctic climate
Subarctic climate
The subarctic climate is a climate characterized by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates...

 (Köppen
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Dfc), with long, somewhat snowy, and very cold winters, and short, mild summers. Monthly daily average temperatures range from 6.6 °F (-14.1 °C) in January to 56 °F (13.3 °C) in July, with an annual mean of 29.9 °F (-1.2 °C). Warm days of above 70 °F (21 °C) can be expected on 13 days per summer,. Precipitation is both most frequent and greatest during the summer months, averaging 16.2 inches (41 cm) per year. Snowfall usually falls in light bouts, and is actually greater in November and December than in January and February, averaging 45 inches (114 cm) a season. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −48 °F to 90 °F (32 °C).

Demographics

As of the census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 of 2000, there were 5,471 people, 1,741 households, and 1,190 families residing in the city. The population density was 125.0 people per square mile (48.3/km²). There were 1,990 housing units at an average density of 45.5 per square mile (17.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 26.83% White
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

, 0.93% Black or African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

, 61.78% Native American
Alaska Natives
Alaska Natives are the indigenous peoples of Alaska. They include: Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.-History:In 1912 the Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded...

, 2.87% Asian
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

, 0.16% Pacific Islander
Pacific Islander American
Pacific Islander Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, are residents of the United States with original ancestry from Oceania. They represent the smallest racial group counted in the United States census of 2000. They numbered 874,000 people or 0.3 percent of the United States population...

, 0.51% from other races, and 6.91% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos
Hispanic and Latino Americans
Hispanic or Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain, and in general all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.1990 Census of Population and Housing: A self-designated classification for people whose origins...

 of any race were 1.70% of the population.

There were 1,741 households out of which 44.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.6% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.65.

The age distribution was 35.5% under 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 3.9% who were 65 or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 110.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $57,321, and the median income for a family was $62,431. Males had a median income of $45,321 versus $39,010 for females. The per capita income
Per capita income
Per capita income or income per person is a measure of mean income within an economic aggregate, such as a country or city. It is calculated by taking a measure of all sources of income in the aggregate and dividing it by the total population...

 for the city is $20,267. About 10.6% of the families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under the age of 18 and 18.3% of those ages 64 and over.

Transportation and economy

The state-owned Bethel Airport
Bethel Airport
Bethel Airport is a state-owned public-use airport located three nautical miles southwest of the central business district of Bethel, a city in the Bethel Census Area of the U.S. state of Alaska.- Facilities and aircraft :...

 is the regional transportation center, and is served by seven passenger carriers, including Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is an airline based in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, Washington in the United States. The airline originated in 1932 as McGee Airways. After many mergers with and acquisitions of other airlines, including Star Air Service, it became known as Alaska Airlines in 1944...

, Grant Aviation
Grant Aviation
Grant Aviation is a regional airline that serves the state of Alaska. The airline was formed in 1971 as Delta Air Services based out of Emmonak...

, Hageland Aviation Services
Hageland Aviation Services
Hageland Aviation Services was a regional airline based in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. It serves nine destinations in Alaska and operates state wide charter services...

, Yute Air and Frontier Flying Service
Frontier Flying Service
Frontier Flying Service is an American airline headquartered in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States. It operates an extensive network of year-round scheduled commuter services and postal services to Alaska bush communities, primarily north of Fairbanks, as well as charter services to the lower 48 and...

. It also receives service from five cargo operators: Everts Air Cargo
Everts Air Cargo
Everts Air Cargo is an American Part 121 airline based in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. It operates D.O.D, scheduled and charter airline cargo within Alaska and Canada...

, Northern Air Cargo
Northern Air Cargo
Northern Air Cargo is an American cargo airline based in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. It operates services within Alaska and to Canada and mainland USA. Its main base is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, with a hub at Fairbanks International Airport....

, Alaska Central Express
Alaska Central Express
Alaska Central Express is an airline based at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. It is an Alaskan-owned cargo and small package express service...

, Arctic Transportation Services
Arctic Transportation Services
Ryan Air Services is an American cargo-only airline that serves over 70 villiages in Bush Alaska out of hubs in Aniak, Bethel, Emmonak, Kotzebue, Nome, St. Mary's, and Unalakleet.- History :...

, and Lynden Air Cargo
Lynden Air Cargo
Lynden Air Cargo is an American cargo airline based in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. It operates scheduled services and on demand charter, international and domestic flights, including services for the US military. Its main base is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.- History :The airline was...

, and numerous small air taxi services including Renfro's Alaskan Adventures. The airport ranks third in the state for total number of flights. It offers a 6,400 foot asphalt runway and 1,850 foot gravel crosswind runway, and is currently undergoing a $7 million renovation and expansion. Three float plane bases are nearby: Hangar Lake, H Marker Lake, and the Kuskokwim River
Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River or Kusko River is a river, long, in Southwest Alaska in the United States. It is the ninth largest river in the United States by average discharge volume at its mouth and seventeenth largest by basin drainage area.The river provides the principal drainage for an area of the...

.

The Port of Bethel is the northernmost medium-draft port in the United States. River travel is the primary means of local transportation in the summer. A Bethel-based barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

 service provides goods to Kuskokwim
Kuskokwim River
The Kuskokwim River or Kusko River is a river, long, in Southwest Alaska in the United States. It is the ninth largest river in the United States by average discharge volume at its mouth and seventeenth largest by basin drainage area.The river provides the principal drainage for an area of the...

 villages.

Within Bethel there are approximately 16 miles (25.7 km) of roads which are not connected to any contiguous highway system. Winter ice roads lead to several local villages, but their condition varies depending on temperature and snow fall.

An extensive network of snow machine trails connects Bethel to villages all over the Delta, from the Bering Sea to the Yukon.

The town's single paved road—about 10 miles—supports a surprisingly large taxicab industry. With 93 taxi drivers, the town has more cab drivers per capita than any other city in the country, making it the unlikely taxicab capital of the United States. Just as surprising, most local cab drivers are Albanian or South Korean immigrants lured north by reports of good money.

A relatively recent addition to the economy of Bethel is farming. Initiated by a small organic farm, local food production in Bethel has been increasing. A winner of the Alaska Marketplace competition, the Meyers Farm has been providing organic produce for the local population of Bethel.

Bethel is also the site of a proposed major, relative to Alaska, coal powered generating station, and a unique 8.5 miles (13.7 km) prototype single-wire earth return electrical intertie to Napakiak, Alaska
Napakiak, Alaska
Napakiak is a city in Bethel Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 353.-Geography:Napakiak is located at ....

, constructed in 1981.

Education

MikeInguut Elitnaurviat elementary school

LKSD Bethel Regional high school

Kilbuck elementary school

Bethel Alternative Boarding school

Kuskokwim campus University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Sports and recreation

Bethel is home to a noted mid-distance dogsled race, the Kuskokwim 300. Held every January since 1980, the race commemorates an early mail route that once tied the settlement to the outside world. Top mushers
Mushing
Mushing is a general term for a sport or transport method powered by dogs, and includes carting, pulka, scootering, sled dog racing, skijoring, freighting, and weight pulling. More specifically, it implies the use of one or more dogs to pull a sled on snow or a rig on dry land...

 and hundreds of sled dog
Sled dog
Sled dogs, known also as sleigh man dogs, sledge dogs, or sleddogs, are highly trained types of dogs that are used to pull a dog sled, a wheel-less vehicle on runners also called a sled or sleigh, over snow or ice, by means of harnesses and lines.Sled dogs have become a popular winter recreation...

s participate in the race for a purse of $100,000, the largest offered by any 300 miles (482.8 km) sled dog race.

Local recreational activities include snow machining, skiing, bicycling, kayaking, caribou hunting, and salmon fishing.

Arts and culture

Traditional dancers from all over Alaska and beyond participate every March in the Camai Dance Festival. Hundreds of costumed dancers, drummers, and singers perform traditional Yup'ik story dances during the three-day festival, sponsored by the Bethel Council on the Arts. "Camai" translates as "a warm hello."

Media

Bethel has a public television station, KYUK-TV, and two radio stations, public KYUK
KYUK (AM)
KYUK is an AM public radio clear-channel station in Bethel, Alaska. It is licensed for 10 kilowatts on 640 kHz. It primarily features programming from National Public Radio and ....

 and private KYKD. It is also home to the weekly regional newspapers Delta Discovery
Delta Discovery
The Delta Discovery is a weekly newspaper serving Bethel, Alaska and the villages of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Bristol Bay regions of southwestern Alaska. Its motto is "Real news for the real people". -External links:*...

and Tundra Drums
Alaska Newspapers, Inc.
Alaska Newspapers, Inc. was, until August 2011, the publisher of six weekly Alaska newspapers, a quarterly magazine, and several special publications including a shopper, visitor's guides, and programs....

.

Sister cities

Bethel has 1 official sister city
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

.
Anadyr
Anadyr (town)
Anadyr is a port town and the administrative centre of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the extreme north-eastern region of Russia. It is at the mouth of the Anadyr River, on the tip of the southern promontory that sticks out into Anadyrskiy Liman...

, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Chukotka Autonomous Okrug , or Chukotka , is a federal subject of Russia located in the Russian Far East.Chukotka has a population of 53,824 according to the 2002 Census, and a surface area of . The principal town and the administrative center is Anadyr...

, Russian Federation

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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