The name ‘Huslia’ comes from the Denaakk’e name for the Huslia River – Hø¬yekk’etno’ which means, ‘river with a steep bank’. The Denaakk’e name of the village itself is Ts’aateyhdenaadekk’onh Denh which means, ‘place where a forest fire burned out to the river on the hill’. It is located 254 airmiles northwest of Fairbanks.
Most of the people now living in Huslia came originally from the Dolbi and Kateel areas at the turn of the century. They established a village at Cutt-Off. There was a problem with this site, though. Every spring there was flooding that would wash out people’s homes. Also, because of the constant dampness, there was a problem with diseases such as tuberculosis. So, in the 1940s the people moved their village to its present site on higher ground. Another reason for the move was that the State Department of Education was unwilling to put in a school until the village had been moved away from the flood danger. The post office was moved from Cutoff to Huslia in 1952. Huslia is part of the K’oyitlots’ina Corporation, which is a merging of Hughes, Huslia, Allakaket, and Alatna. The first school was established in Huslia in the late 1940’s.
Huslia has grown a lot in recent years. The village has its own Native corporation. A cooperative store was formed in the 1960s by Native people to meet the needs of the growing town. The people of Huslia are known as a politically active, highly motivated group. Huslia women are famous for being very hard-working and independent. Some have built their own houses and go hunting for big game on their own.
Huslia is also known as the dog-mushing capital of Alaska. Some of the most famous dog mushers from Huslia are: Bobby Vent, Jimmy Huntington, Cue Bifelt, Bergman Sam, and George Attla, about whom a movie, Spirit of the Wind, was produced. (Rose Ambrose of Huslia was one of the starring acresses in this movie)
Well-known people from Huslia include: John Sackett, Alaska State Senator; Catherine Attla, well-known for her story-telling and for her work in presering Native culture; Chief Henry, famous for his story-telling and his knowledge of Athabascan traditions; Eliza Jones, linguist active in Native language work; Herbie Vent, well-known singer and composer who has recorded two collections of contemporary songs about village life.
YKSD Biography Series: Edwin Simon