Telida is located on the south side of the Swift Fork (McKinley Fork) of the Kuskokwim River, about 50 miles northeast of Medfra. The area experiences a cold, continental climate. Summer temperatures average 42 to 80 degrees fahrenheit, and winters can range from -60 to zero degrees. The Kuskokwim is generally ice-free from June through October.
Athabascan Indian folklore indicates Telida’s descendants were from two sisters, survivors of a Yukon Indian attack, who fled from the Denali area to Telida Lake where they discovered whitefish at its outlet. Telida means “lake whitefish” in Athabascan. The women were later discovered by stragglers from the Yukon party, who married the women and settled at the lake.
The village has had three locations; the first was located over one mile upstream and was first visited by army explorers in 1899. When the course of the Swift Fork changed, the first site was abandoned what is now called “Old Telida.” In 1916, some residents moved to the present day site, “New Telida,” four or five miles downstream from Old Telida. A Russian Orthodox chapel, St. Basil the Great, was built at the old site in 1918. In 1920-21, Telida was a stopping point on the McGrath-Nenana Trail, and hundreds of people used the roadhouse. In 1935, the old village flooded, and the remaining residents relocated to the new site. In 1958, a fire cleared an area, in which the villagers constructed an airstrip. Many families moved to Takotna during the school year and lived in Telida only during summer months. A local school was built in the 1970s, but because the population declined, the school was closed. Currently, there are no residents in the Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan village of Telida.