Connected by a two-mile dirt road, the villages of Upper and Lower Kalskag were established along the Kuskokwim River. Upper Kalskag, also known as “Upper” to its residents, was settled in 1898 when Nicholas Kameroff, Sr. along with his wife and eight children move into the area. The village was originally a fish camp known as Kessiglik. In the following years, residents of nearby Kalthagamute began to move to Upper and by 1940 the village had a school, general store, post office and barging company. During the 1940’s, the village owned and worked a herd of an estimated 2,000 reindeer. According to the most recent U.S. Census data, about 220 people live in Upper Kalskag.
Upper Kalskag was and remains heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church, which prompted a group of Russian Orthodox practitioners to relocate to a nearby fish camp used by village residents in the 1930’s. The location eventually became its own village called Lower Kalskag, or “Lower.” Residents built a Russian Orthodox chapel in 1940. A school was constructed in 1959, quickly followed by a post office, sawmill and power plant. Today, approximately 300 people live in Lower Kalskag.
The villages of Upper and Lower Kalskag are both federally recognized tribes. The sale and importation of alcohol is prohibited. Members of the communities practice traditional Yup’ik lifestyles. Subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering provide most of the food including salmon, moose, waterfowl and berries.
The two villages are connected by a gravel road, making it easy for barges to deliver fuel and other supplies during the summer months. Russian Mission and Aniak are accessible by snowmachine trails in the winter.
The 2014 Annual Meeting of Shareholder was held in Upper Kalskag on July 12.