History, Culture and Demographics
Traditionally, Chickaloon territory was a center of trade for copper, sheep, and goats from the north, and salmon, beluga, and fur seals from the south.
The Ahtna, and formerly the Dena'ina, Athabascan Indians of Chickaloon traveled extensively within the Copper River and Cook Inlet areas.
The Chickaloon River was named after Chief Chiklu, the last Denai'ina chief in this area.
What is now the community of Chickaloon was once a primary fishing camp of Chickaloon Village.
Nay'dini'aa Na' is the Ahtna name for the original settlement of Chickaloon Village on the north bank above the mouth of the Chickaloon River.
An 1898 army exploration party located a vein of high quality coal near the Chickaloon River.
The deposits were hard to reach and there was little interest in them until a railroad was built to Interior Alaska.
During the winter of 1913-1914, an Alaskan freighter named Jack Dalton used the frozen Matanuska River to haul the first test coal from the Chickaloon coal deposits.
When construction of the Alaska Railroad was approved in 1914, the plan included a spur line to the Chickaloon coal field.
From 1915 to 1922, the U.S. Navy sponsored a coal mining boom in Chickaloon drainage, which had a negative impact on Chickaloon Village, especially with respect to their once valued fishing camp.
At the same time, it provided an opportunity for jobs and the development of Chickaloon.
Coal mining also took place in the area around Sutton, at the Wishbone Hill Naval Coal Reserve, Coal Creek and Carbon Creek.
Like so many other Alaska mining towns, Chickaloon grew quickly and almost as quickly declined.
By 1925, the Navy halted coal development in Chickaloon and the land reverted to public domain and was opened to homesteaders by 1958.
Today, local businesses provide employment for community residents and serve the needs of residents and visitors alike.
Many Chickaloon Village Tribal members remain in Chickaloon and others live in Sutton and surrounding communities.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Chickaloon Village. The population of the community consists of 16.9% Alaska Native or part Native.
The Tribally-owned and operated Ya Ne Dah Ah, or "Ancient Teachings," School located in Moose Creek serves tribal members living in Chickaloon and surrounding communities.
Fishing, hunting, gathering, and trading are important activities for both Athabascan and non-Native residents.
During the 2000 U.S. Census, total housing units numbered 208, and vacant housing units numbered 121.
Vacant housing units used only seasonally numbered 113. U.S. Census data for Year 2000 showed 116 residents as employed.
The unemployment rate at that time was 24.18 percent, although 48.67 percent of all adults were not in the work force.
The median household income was $49,792, per capita income was $14,755, and 2.81 percent of residents were living below the poverty level.