Alaska Native community from those that live
in the community. The Koyukon Athabascan
people have been living a subsistence life in
the Alaska wilderness for thousands of years
and are excited to share our stories and culture
with the world.”
KRTT’s services include both unguided
tours and small-group, all-inclusive guided
river camping tours of three days, two nights
and six days, five nights.
“We are also able to offer customizable trips
for groups. Hughes to Huslia is approximately
200 miles by river, so if a group wants to
experience a trip between villages, we can offer
that,” Bifelt adds.
Elder advisors join the multi-day guided
“They are our greatest resources when it
comes to our cultural practices and Denaakk’e
language [Koyukon Athabascan] and also the
history of the region,” Bifelt says.
The off-the-grid base for KRTT is 200 miles
from Fairbanks and accessible only by plane,
operating nearly year-round with summer/fall
tours from June to October and winter/spring
tours from February to May.
“Although it has been a challenge for
KRTT to build a consistent sales channel
with guests, we believe that in the long-term
the visitor industry will become a large part
of the local economy in Hughes,” Bifelt says.
“As a tribally-owned business, all profits will
go to increased services and for the benefit of
our tribal members and community.”
Despite its remoteness of the destination,
KRTT and the Hughes Village Council have
big plans for boosting tourism revenue.
“KRTT and the Hughes Village Council
are currently planning to build a visitors’
center in Hughes, with several guest cabins
and also hope to have a lodge built at one
of the Koyukuk River camps in the future,”
Bifelt says. “Although these are long-term
goals and may take several years to put
together, we believe having these assets will
grow our business.”
Kodiak Brown Bear Center
Also remote is the Kodiak Brown Bear Center
(KBBC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koniag,
which represents the Native Alutiiq people
of the Kodiak Island archipelago.
Accessible only by float plane or helicopter,
KBBC is situated on Camp Island on Karluk
Lake on the southwest side of Kodiak Island.
Despite its extremely remote location, KBBC
offers all the amenities of any upscale resort
with 24-hour power, full bathrooms, WiFi,
and state-of-the-art power
generation and communications, says Edward
Ward, the general
manager of KBBC.
Isaac Stone Simonelli is a freelance
journalist and former managing editor for
the Phuket Gazette.
“KBBC offers a high-end guided Kodiak
Brown Bear viewing experience for the experiential traveler, wildlife photographers, and
wildlife film production and documentary
companies,” says Ward.
KBBC has exclusive access to more than
112,000 acres of prime Kodiak Brown Bear
habitat on its Native Alutiiq ancestral lands
surrounding Karluk Lake and Karluk River.
“KBBC’s guided Kodiak Brown Bear
viewing experience includes an in-depth
immersion into our rich and vibrant Native
Alutiiq culture and heritage,” Ward says. “The
cornerstone of our Alutiiq heritage culture is
on the very same lands the KBBC sits today.
Archeological digs have discovered over
seventeen Alutiiq village sites and hundreds
of barabaras [sod houses] around Karluk Lake
and River; 75 percent of KBBC employees are
of Alutiiq descent [and] are humbled knowing
that they are walking on the same land and
trails their ancestors did for millennia.”
KBBC’s current operating season is July to
October, syncing up with the run of migrat-
ing sockeye salmon reaching Karluk Lake to
spawn, which attracts bears that feast on the
fish to put on their winter stores of fat, Ward
“Starting in 2019 the KBBC will be offering
its location for corporate and organizational
retreats, wildlife and environmental experi-
ential studies, and Alutiiq cultural camps,”
Ward says. “With the other services the
KBBC plans to start offering in 2019, it will
become pretty much a year-round operation
operating on the shoulder seasons of our bear
Ward points out that being part of a regional
corporation is an asset with the networking,
support, and knowledge base as well as
common interests the regional and village
corporations have with each other.
“KBBC provides not only an economic
benefit for the community with all the
associated goods and services we use
through the different businesses,” Ward
says. “It also provides opportunities for
our regional corporation to give back to the
community with sponsorships, donations,
and local employment opportunities for
shareholders, descendants, and residents of
the community.” R
“Starting in 2019 the KBBC will be offering its location
for corporate and organizational retreats, wildlife and
environmental experiential studies, and Alutiiq cultural camps.
With the other services the KBBC plans to start offering
in 2019, it will become pretty much a year-round operation
operating on the shoulder seasons of our bear viewing.”
General Manager, KBBC
A brown bear plays
with her cub at the
Kodiak Brown Bear
Center on Kodiak.