The people of the Native Village of Afognak, a federally recognized tribe, are the descendants of the original Alutiiq inhabitants of the village of Ag’waneq, which was located on the island of Afognak, three miles off the shore of Kodiak Island. Members of our tribe inhabited our ancestral village until the Great Earthquake and Tsunami of 1964. Today many of our members live and work in the City of Kodiak, the village of Port Lions, Anchorage, and the Lower 48 states.
The Alutiiq people have inhabited the Kodiak Archipelago for more than 7,500 years. Like hundreds of similar Alutiiq settlements along Prince William Sound, the Kenai and Alaska Peninsula, and the Kodiak Archipelago, the people of Ag’waneq village enjoyed a subsistence lifestyle of fishing and hunting sea mammals from skin-covered kayaks. Our ancestors had a bartering economic system, trading goods and services as needed with their neighbors, from the Aleutian chain to Southeast Alaska. Men and women performed different, but complementary forms of labor.
The Alutiiq believed that all things, be they living or not, possess a spirit, which they honored. Shamans, who were highly regarded, communicated with these spirits and with the spirits of the five levels in the universe above earth. The first half of the twentieth century brought with it natural disasters. The eruption of the Katmai Volcano in 1912 covered the village of Afognak with three feet of ash. In 1964, the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami virtually wiped out Afognak village. With help from the federal government and the Lions Club, survivors rebuilt the community at a new location on Kodiak Island and named the village Port Lions.
The Native Village of Afognak is engaged in numerous cultural and economic projects that benefit our tribal members. Since 1993, the tribe has led and developed significant archaeological research and cultural activities at the “Light the Past, Spark the Future, Dig Afognak” seasonal camp located on Afognak Island. KALI’s efforts to develop and lead collaborations across our region’s communities and tribes have proved to be invaluable to our Afognak community. We are currently establishing Mal’uk Farms, Kodiak’s first year-round hydroponics farm, as part of a 3-year project funded through KALI called Suupet Neregwarluki, We Are Feeding our People.