The Athabaskan Indian village of Huslia is located on the north bank of the Koyukuk River, about 70 miles north of Galena and 290 air miles west of Fairbanks. It lies within the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge.
The Koyukon Athabaskan originally lived between the south fork of theKoyukuk River and the Kateel River. They had spring, summer, fall, and winter camps and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon to fish for salmon. Cutoff Trading Post (also called Old Town) was established in the 1920s about 4 miles overland or 16 river miles from modern Huslia.
In 1949, the community moved from Cutoff to the present site because Cutoff flooded frequently, and the ground was swampy. Huslia (originally spelled Huslee) was named after the Huslia River, which enters the Koyukuk near the village. Huslia had been used as a burial site since 1886 but by the time of the move most of the old cemetery had been destroyed by erosion. In 1950 the first school was established, followed by a post office, airport, and road construction in 1952. The name was changed to Huslia in 1952. Around this time families began to live year-round at Huslia.
Present day population is about 299, according to 2011 Alaska Department of Labor estimates. Subsistence is still central to the local community, with salmon, whitefish, moose, bear, caribou, small game, waterfowl, and berries providing most food sources.
The Huslia Catholic Community has never had a resident priest. Alaskan Shepherd archives from 1954 report 25 Catholic residents in the village, many of whom reportedly "moved back and forth between the Catholic and Episcopal Churches." Huslia was visited infrequently by missionary priests from the Society of Jesus. Around 1955 the church was built and dedicated to St. Francis Regis. Shortly thereafter clergymen stops in the village became more regular.
The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity maintained a presence in pastoral ministry at St. Francis Regis in the 1980's. Franciscan Friars from Galena began ministering at the parish in 1986 and resided in the village off and on over the years. Diocesan priests began serving as visiting priests in the 1990's.
Presently a Franciscan brother serves as Pastoral Minister for St. Francis Regis from his home base in Galena.