The community of Larsen Bay, Uyaqsaq in Alutiiq, is located on Larsen Bay, on the northwest coast of Kodiak Island, 60 miles southwest of the City of Kodiak and 283 miles southwest of Anchorage. Named after Peter Larsen, an Unga Island fur trader, hunter and guide, we first appeared on the 1940 census as an unincorporated village and we incorporated as the City of Larsen Bay in 1974. However, archaeological evidence and oral traditions indicates that the Larsen Bay area has been inhabited for at least 2,000 years. The majority of our residents are of Alutiiq descent with strong ties to the old village of Karluk.
Larsen Bay was involved in the largest national repatriation of human remains of almost 1,000 individuals, our relatives and ancestors, along with mortuary artifacts, that were collected in the 1930’s by Alěs Hrdlička, and curated at the Smithsonian Institution. These remains were collected over the strenuous objections of our community. We worked tirelessly with regional leadership to have these remains returned and in 1987 requested repatriation under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. After extensive review, the Smithsonian granted this request and our ancestors’ remains were returned and reburied in 1991.
Larsen Bay has significant natural resource assets in its natural beauty and its location on the greater Uyak Bay system that provides access to marine systems for commercial and sports fishing. The nearby Karluk River area provides great opportunity for commercial sports fishing, hunting and bear viewing. So it is not surprising that our community’s economy is largely seasonal and driven by the Icicle Seafoods processing plant that operates during the fishing season and six hunting and fishing lodges. Our small year-round population swells by several hundred seasonal workers, many of them from countries outside the United States. With this positive economic activity comes the challenges of providing infrastructure such as electricity and water for this seasonal influx of workers.
The community has been working with KALI since 2015 to establish the Marlene Kenoyer Gardens, a tribally owned farm. The farm is named after a beloved Elder, Marlene Kenoyer, who was a master gardener and who shared her knowledge with our youth. Under the leadership of Farm Manager Sam Kenoyer, the farm is now producing fresh, seasonal food for the community and for sale to seasonal businesses. The farm is now working with KALI to add hydroponics to expand to year-round production.
Our community leadership are active participants in the Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum. The Native Village of Larsen Bay is also working with the Kodiak Island Housing Authority to repurpose HUD homes to provide affordable housing to year-round residents.