Buckland is located on the west bank of the Buckland River, about 75 air miles southeast of Kotzebue.
Buckland residents and their close ancestors have established villages at different points along the Buckland River at least five times in recent memory. Other sites have included Elephant Point, New Site and Old Buckland. Pasturing or harvesting the village’s reindeer herd led to relocations to New Site and Old Buckland in the 1920s. Extensive fossil remains at Elephant Point indicate prehistoric occupation of the Buckland vicinity. The city was incorporated in 1966.
The population of Buckland has quadrupled in less than a century, from 104 in 1930 to a current population of around 416. Ninety-seven percent of Buckland inhabitants are Iñupiat.
The City of Buckland is incorporated under the laws of the State of Alaska, and has a mayor. It is one of eleven communities in the Northwest Arctic Borough. An Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) government is the people’s federally-recognized tribal government.
CLIMATE AND TOPOGRAPHY
Buckland is located in a transitional climate zone characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Temperatures average 14 degrees below zero to three degrees above Fahrenheit in the winter and 45 to 60 degrees during summer. Temperature extremes have been recorded from 60 degrees below zero to 85 degrees above. Buckland receives less precipitation than most communities in the NANA region. Snowfall averages 40 inches per year, rainfall nine inches. Powerful crosswinds often restrict flying during cold-weather months. In the spring Buckland is subject to flooding caused by ice jams.
TRANSPORATION SERVICES AND FACILITIES
Air – Scheduled and chartered cargo and passenger flights land in Buckland on a 3,200' long by 75' wide gravel airstrip that is one of 256 airports and airstrips maintained by the State of Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, the largest aviation system in North America. Scheduled regional passenger air carriers fly back and forth daily from Buckland to Kotzebue, where connecting flights to other villages throughout Northwest Alaska are available. A round-trip ticket from Buckland to Kotzebue costs $260-$324. Air cargo rates from Kotzebue to Buckland range from 90 cents per pound for major loads (in excess of 5,000 pounds) to $1.05 per pound for loads weighing less than 500 pounds with Bering Air.
Land – There are no roads connecting Buckland to the rest of the state. Residents travel overland to other villages and to reach subsistence hunting grounds by all-terrain vehicle and snowmachine, depending on the season.
Water/Marine – Various lighterage companies deliver fuel and other supplies in the summer. Small boats are used for inter-village travel and subsistence activities.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTAL SERVICES
Water – The public water supply in Buckland is pumped 300 feet from the Buckland River via an insulated transmission line, treated in the village washeteria and then stored in a 100,000-gallon holding tank. A few homes have indoor plumbing, as does the Buckland School. Most residents haul their own water from the public tank.
Sewer – Apart from the handful of residences that are connected to limited village sewer system, roughly half the households in Buckland use flush/haul waste tanks while the other half utilize the tried-and-true honeybucket method. The city empties honeybucket bunkers and flush/haul tanks weekly. A piped water and sewer system is under construction, and the village hopes it will be complete by this fall of 2013.
Solid Waste Disposal – Residents dispose of their refuse in dumpsters placed around Buckland. City workers periodically haul away and empty the dumpsters in an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved landfill outside of town.
Public Safety – Buckland is within the service area of the Alaska State Troopers based in Kotzebue. A Village Public Safety Officer is in training, to serve his/her community and the City of Buckland has a local Village Police Officer and a weekend back-up VPO.
OTHER SERVICES AND UTILITIES
In addition to the facilities and services below, Buckland has one grocery store, three small stores and a community hall.
Health Services – The Buckland Clinic, operated by Maniilaq Association, provides routine health care. The clinic is staffed by a health aide, who is on call 24 hours a day, and by volunteers. Emergency patients are transported to Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue.
Electricity – The Kotzebue Electric Association is contracted to provide electrical power to Buckland via diesel generators with a peak capacity of 650 KiloWatts. The cost is 40 cents per Kilowatt Hour (KWH).
Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone Cooperative provides in-state telephone service to Buckland 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 Buckland. (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.|
Around 183 students every year attend the Buckland School, a combined elementary, middle and high school facility. The Buckland School employs 14 teachers.
Residents depend on subsistence hunting and fishing, and trade among family and regional connections, for most food, drawing on local game resources. Employment is primarily with the school, IRA, city, health clinic, and small stores. Some mining also occurs. One resident holds a commercial fishing permit. Interest is high in developing village and home-based manufacturing, to generate new sources of income via ivory and wood carving, and regional edibles.
There are roughly 95 residential structures in Buckland. Almost all are occupied. The median home value in Buckland is $120,000. The median rent is $717. The average family household size is 5.2 persons. It is a growing, family-oriented community.