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Metlakatla Indian Community

Background / Program Administration & Staff

Metlakatla means "saltwater channel passage." The community of Metlakatla was founded in 1887 by a group of Tsimshian Indians from Canada. The Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) is located on the west coast of Annette Island. The Metlakatla Indian Community, Annette Island Reserve is the only Indian Reservation in the State of Alaska.

Access to Metlakatla is by air and water. The economic base includes fishing, seafood processing and services. The Metlakatla hatchery is one of the largest Indian hatcheries in the US. The tribe was "almost" completely sustainable until the loss of fish and timber industries. Additional areas of economic development interest include a new bottled water company (which is now in business), tourism and a potential prison on the other side of the island.

Metlakatla has a population of 1,421. The Metlakatla tribal population varies between the seasons. The area covers 130.2 square miles of land and 83.8 miles of water.

The MIC has a 188-employee staff. One natural resources person worked part time on planning when time was available, before the part-time planner. MIC has one a Mayor, Executive Secretary, Executive Treasurer and 12 Council Members.

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Transportation System

Surface Transportation - Port facilities include a dock with a barge ramp, two small boat harbors, and two marine ways. The State ferry system serves Metlakatla from Ketchikan . A new ferry vessel to be home ported in Metlakatla is under construction by the State. The new vessel requires changes to the transfer facility, which are currently under construction. These changes include the ability to moor the vessel overnight (through tidal changes) without line-handling by crew.

photo of a dock

photo of a dock

Air Transportation - Two seaplane bases are available for scheduled floatplane service from Ketchikan. Metlakatla also has a 7,500' asphalt runway and a 5,700' gravel crosswind runway. This WWII-era Coast Guard facility was in use for both military and commercial passenger service. Commercial passenger service was discontinued in 1972 following the construction of the Ketchikan airport.

photo of a field

The closing of the Coast Guard base on Metlakatla followed in 1976. The runway surface remains in relatively fair condition. This is due, in part, to the lack of vegetation invasion of the paved areas due to the naturally occurring mineral content (chromium oxide) in the asphalt mix that deters plant growth.

Mass Transportation -A fixed bus service runs Monday through Friday. A portion of operating funds for this service are through state-administered FTA grants (Section 5311 Funds). The service has one route and is served by one bus (with one spare).

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Construction Projects

The 14.7-mile, Walden Point Road project is under initial construction to link the community of Metlakatla to the northern end of Annette Island, with future plans for frequent ferry service linking this point to Ketchikan, ideally through a new terminal in Saxman. Initial construction will provide a pioneer road for the northern portion of the route, but will not complete the tie to the community. A number of components must be funded to complete the effort, including $2 million to finish design for phase C. A larger amount of funding is needed for construction of Phase C. MIC is evaluating methods to minimize costs. The State of Alaska has done the design work for the ferry component, including the new ferry (under construction), that will serve Metlakatla.

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BIA funds are used to fund road maintenance in Metlakatla. Unpaved roads are graded monthly. The ferry terminal, including a short driveway, is maintained by the State of Alaska.

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Planning & Proposed Projects

Well underway are the plans and design work for a multi-use trail, called "The Cedars Trail." Estimated cost for this project is $640,767. The project parallels the Airport Road from Metlakatla to Yellow Hill.

Metlakatla Indian Community has developed a 2003 Roads Priority Listing that includes estimated costs-upgrade information.

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Inventory and Asset Management

Metlakatla has 46 miles on the BIA inventory. Walden Point Road was recently added to the BIA inventory.

Traffic counts are conducted by BIA.

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To provide Feedback, Suggestions or Comments for this page contact Tim Penney at tim.penney@dot.gov.