Mansfield Village, Alaska

Mansfield Village is an abandoned village which lies on the south shore of Lake Mansfield – a 3 mile lake north of the Athabaskan (Native American) community of Tanacross.

The Lake was named by in 1890 by E.H. Wells, of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, for Lt. Cmdr. Henry Buckingham Mansfield, US Navy. Lt. Cmdr. Mansfield was the commander of the USC & GS steamer Patterson which made coast and hydrographic surveys of Alaska waters from 1889 to 1891.

Tanacross is the ancestral language of the Mansfield-Kechumstuk and Healy Lake-Joseph Village bands of Athabaskan people, whose ancestral territory encompassed an area bounded by the Goodpaster River to the west, the Alaska Range to the south, the Fortymile and Tok rivers to the east, and the Yukon Uplands to the north.

In the late nineteenth century trading posts were established at Tanana Crossing, a ford along the Eagle Trail, directly across the Tanana River from the present-day village of Tanacross. A telegraph station followed in 1902, and an Episcopal mission in 1909. Both the Mansfield-Kechumstuk and Healy Lake-Joseph Village bands eventually settled in Tanana Crossing, eventually shortened to Tanacross (McKennan 1959). The village was relocated across the river to its present location in the early 1970s, and most present-day Tanacross speakers live in or near the village of Tanacross.

If you live nearby to Mansfield, Alaska, or know someone who does, please contact us!