Woman with girl hugging her shoulders, both in traditional native dress, with Ahtna mountains in the background.Wooden trim

Ahtna History & Culture

The Ahtna people take their name from the indigenous name for the Copper River, which flows through Ahtna land.

Ahtna, Inc. shareholders are mainly comprised of the Ahtna Athabascan people of the Copper River and Cantwell regions of Southcentral Alaska.

The language of the Ahtna people, which is also referred to by the same name, belongs to the Na-Dene language family that includes the Tlingit, Eyak and Athabascan languages of North America. The four distinct dialects of the Ahtna language are still spoken today, and there are strong efforts to increase its use amongst new generations of shareholders to preserve the language from extinction.

Historically, the Ahtna people were semi-nomadic and extensive travelers, living in small groups of 20 to 40 people. They continually moved from place to place, following food sources according to the seasons. Annual summer fish camps for the entire family and winter villages served as their base camps. Although most Ahtna are no longer nomadic, historical traditions and ways of life, especially the practice of a subsistence lifestyle, continue to this day.

Ahtna represents more than 2,000 shareholders, many of whom still reside in the Copper River region. Ahtna’s primary mission is to preserve, strengthen, and enhance a cultural identity that has existed for thousands of years.

To fulfill this mission, Ahtna provides a number of economic, cultural and social benefits for our shareholders. To learn more about these benefits and services, please see the shareholders section of this website.