Dillingham Census Area is a census area
located in the state of Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the
population was 4,847. It is part of the unorganized borough and therefore has
no borough seat. Its largest community by far is the city of Dillingham, on a
small arm of Bristol Bay on the Bering Sea.
area around Dillingham was inhabited by both Eskimos and Athabascans and became
a trade center when Russians erected the Alexandrovski Redoubt (Post) in 1818.
Local Native groups and Natives from the Kuskokwim Region, the Alaska Peninsula
and Cook Inlet mixed together as they came to visit or live at the post. The
community was known as Nushagak by 1837, when a Russian Orthodox mission was
established. In 1881 the U.S. Signal Corps established a meteorological station
at Nushagak. In 1884 the first salmon cannery in the Bristol Bay region was
constructed by Arctic Packing Co., east of the site of modern-day Dillingham.
Ten more were established within the next seventeen years. The post office at
Snag Point and town were named after U.S. Senator Paul Dillingham in 1904, who
had toured Alaska extensively with his Senate subcommittee during 1903. The
1918-19 influenza epidemic struck the region, and left no more than 500
survivors. A hospital and orphanage were established in Kanakanak after the
epidemic, 6 miles from the present-day City Center. The Dillingham townsite was
first surveyed in 1947. The City was incorporated in 1963.
A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Curyung Native
Village Council. The population of the community consists of 60.9% Alaska Native
or part Native. Traditionally a Yup'ik Eskimo area, with Russian influences,
Dillingham is now a highly mixed population of non-Natives and Natives. The
outstanding commercial fishing opportunities in the Bristol Bay area are the
focus of the local culture.
Dillingham is the economic, transportation, and public service center for
western Bristol Bay. Commercial fishing, fish processing, cold storage and
support of the fishing industry are the primary activities. Icicle, Peter Pan,
Trident and Unisea operate fish processing plants in Dillingham. During spring
and summer, the population doubles. The city's role as the regional center for
government and services helps to stabilize seasonal employment. Many residents
depend on subsistence activities and trapping of beaver, otter, mink, lynx and
fox provide cash income. Salmon, grayling, pike, moose, bear, caribou, and
berries are harvested.
Dillingham can be reached by air and sea.