Kwethluk is one of Alaska's ancient settlements. Just east of Bethel, the area at the junction of the Kuskokwim and Kwethluk River has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and life there is inextricably tied to the land. Families live by subsistence. The name Kwethluk itself comes from the Yup'ik word meaning "dangerous river." Today, the community is one of the largest on the Kuskokwim, home to some 790 people, predominantly Yup'ik and Eskimo.
Nearly all residents are affected by a massive infrastructure project guided by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium–a multiyear effort involving a new water and wastewater treatment facility and home water and sewer hookups where there previously were none. Launched in 2009, the new infrastructure is almost done. Residents like Darlene Ayapan helped build it. Residents like Frank Alfred run it. When all is complete, the City of Kwethluk will manage it. Everyone will benefit. It's a modern development in an age-old place: This is what it looks like.
This sponsored article, created in partnership with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, was originally published in 61°North – The Design Issue. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, at firstname.lastname@example.org.