Photo: Port Lions


Dorinda Kewan
Mayor, Port Lions

Denise May
Village of Port Lions

Port Lions is located on Settlers Cove about 19 air miles west of the City of Kodiak. We are a community of extended family and friends with a shared history of Alutiiq descent. Port Lions was founded by displaced residents of the Alutiiq village of Afognak, or Ag’waneq, after that village was destroyed by a tidal wave caused by the Great Alaska Good Friday earthquake of 1964. Our village is named after the Lions Club, who assisted us in relocating and rebuilding our homes when we relocated from Afognak to Port Lions. ​

We still practice a traditional, subsistence way of life but encourage progress. From business to daily life, we embrace innovations of the 21st century yet respect the values that have been handed down from one generation to the next. In Port Lions, everyone is respected, and neighbors help neighbors.

Today Port Lions has about 200 residents and our economic survival is dependent on the abundant resources of our Kodiak homeland.  Commercial fishing remains critical to our community and residents own and operate fishing and hunting lodges. Residents also work as community health aides, and teachers, and support the operations of the City of Port Lions and the Native Village of Port Lions (a federally recognized tribe).  

As a small, off-road system Alaskan community, Port Lions faces many challenges. These include the need to develop opportunities for our community, especially our youth, by finding ways to establish reliable internet access to link our community to needed web-based resources and to locate funding to support critical infrastructure. We work together with KALI through the Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum to identify resources and opportunities for our community.​

Beginning in 2015, the Native Village of Port Lions joined with KALI in a three-year pilot project to establish the Port Lions Farm as a sustainable, tribally-owned business. Our Port Lions Farm is currently thriving and with support from KALI and Afognak Native Corporation we are adding year-round production through hydroponics! We are also looking towards mariculture and establishing locally owned kelp farms as a way to keep our people connected to our region’s marine resources.

The Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum is an extremely effective workgroup that brings rural Kodiak leaders together to focus on common issues. Prior to the Forum, there was a huge communication gap between the Kodiak villages and the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly, the Kodiak School Board, and our state legislators. Thanks to the Forum, we now have a voice that is heard by all of these partners, as well as relationships that produce positive results for our village communities.

DORINDA KEWAN, MAYOR of port lions