Copper Basin Region, Alaska
The Copper River Basin Region is located in Southcentral Alaska and encompasses 23,000 square miles. It is nestled between the Chugach Mountains to the south, the Alaska Range to the north, the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains to the east, and the Talkeetna Range to the west, linked by the Copper River drainage in the heart of it all. The region includes many small communities and villages scattered throughout this enormous area, home to about 2700 people, one third of whom are Ahtna Athabascan Indians. PWSCC’s Copper Basin Campus is located at the regional hub in Glennallen, with outreach sites in Mentasta, Slana, Chistochina, Kenny Lake, and Chitina.
For at least eleven thousand years Alaska Natives have inhabited the Copper Basin. The Ahtna Indians lived in traditionally small villages, with hunting and fish camps integral to their subsistence lifestyle. Ancient trade routes covered much of the region, linking trade with Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Interior Natives. European explorers first ascended the Copper River from the coast a little over two hundred years ago, first the Russians in the 1790s and then the Americans in the 1880s.
Today the Copper Basin calls visitors from around the world to raft its rivers, climb its mountains, and marvel at diverse wildlife. A strong Athabascan heritage, mining history, and homesteading history offer cultural diversity and traditional experiences from dog sledding to dipnetting on the famous Copper River. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the largest unit in the national system, gives a sense of the past while nearby villages and towns provide modern services and educational opportunities. From whatever viewpoint, the Copper Basin region offers the excitement and challenge of living and working in an unparalleled Alaskan environment. Learn more about the Copper Basin region from these local links: