After having many different names, "Chuathbaluk" finally stuck during the 1960s for the small, subsistence village located on the north bank of the Kuskokwim River. During the early to mid-1900s, Chuathbaluk was often confused with the Russian Mission on the Yukon, and was referred to as Chukbak, Kuskokwim Russian Mission, and Little Russian Mission.
Its current name is derived from the Yup’ik word “Curarpalek,” meaning “the hills where the big blueberries grow.”
With a population of more than 100, Chuathbaluk residents are predominately Yup’ik Eskimos and Tanaina Athabascans. Most residents are heavily dependent on subsistence activities, and harvest salmon, moose, black bear, porcupine and waterfowl. Local artists display their craftsmanship through fur garments, beadwork, mukluks and ulus.
As most homes are without complete plumbing, residents typically get their water from a local storage tank. Locals are primarily employed through the school, tribal government, city, clinic, or seasonal firefighting for the Bureau of Land Management.
During an influenza epidemic in 1900, much of the village vanished, but Russian Orthodox members continued to hold services at the mission. The church was rebuilt in the late 1950s and a state school opened in the 1960s. The city was incorporated in 1975. A federally recognized tribe is located in the community - the Chuathbaluk Traditional Council.
Characterized by a continental climate, the village gets an average of 85 inches of snowfall per year, with a total precipitation of 17 inches per year. Temperatures in Chuathbaluk range from -55 to 87°F. Fall brings heavy winds, often causing flight delays.
In a partnership with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Chuathbaluk has been participating in a suicide prevention program for the past year. The village hopes to create a safe community where all residents can lead happy, healthy lives.