Alutiiq children at Woody Island’s Baptist Mission farm in the early 20th century.   Photo courtesy of Tangirnaq Native Village.


Gwen Sargent
Executive Director
Tangirnaq Native Village

Woody Island is the homeland of the Native Village of Tangirnaq and is located just two miles from the city and island of Kodiak. Archaeological data indicates the Sugpiaq Alutiiq people lived on the island for a millennium and prehistoric sites are common on Woody Island. 
Known by its Sugqiaq name, Tangirnaq village was home to hundreds of Tangirnarmiut, “the people of Tangirnaq”.  Woody Island is considered a microcosm of Alutiiq life. The history of the Tangirnarmiut people is largely undocumented, much of what is known focuses on the historic village site itself and the subsequent waves of European influence.
Ancient use of Woody Island includes evidence from archaeological eras.  During the Katchemak tradition, around 3,300 years ago, Woody Island was inhabited with evidence of pit houses, various fishing devices, and ivory carvings that demonstrate rich resource harvesting. By 1,000 years ago, the “Koniag” tradition marks the time when early Alutiiq people were first encountered by early explorers. Evidence of whaling, fishing and carving during this time is still found on our island homeland.
The Russian phase began in the late 1700’s.  Russian fur traders operated from Woody Island or as they named it Ostrov Leisnoi or, “wooded island.” And in 1852 the Russian-American Commercial Company set-up an ice company damming Lake Tanignak. The ice company cut and shipped ice south to the west coast of America.  After the Treaty of Cession with Russian in 1867, Woody Island became part of the United States.

Today the descendants of the Alutiiq Villages on Woody Island are members of Tangirnaq Native Village (TNV), a federally recognized tribe. The core purpose of the TNV is to enhance the lives of Tribal members by providing programs and services while preserving and promoting our culture and traditions.

Throughout the year TNV serves its tribal members, investing in growth, food security, library services and most recently working with local and federal agencies to care for village members during the COVID pandemic.

TNV’s growing concerns regarding the community’s connection to the place and lack of documented resources have affected maintaining and strengthening the distinctive relationship with tradition and culture. The Tangirnarmiut, the people from Woody Island, are connected to their ancestral land and would like to share their rich history and stories with their family and descendants. The Tribe promotes opportunities for learning about the identity, history, culture, and values of the Tangirnarmiut, for community and personal well-being. From harvesting local natural foods from the wilderness to Alutiiq customs, celebrations, and ways of life. 

TNV is excited to work with KALI to launch tribally owned hydroponic production and the planned Qik’rtaq Food Hub that will focus on providing fresh locally grown foods with priority access to our Tribal households. 
TNV is a valued part of the Kodiak Archipelago Rural Regional Leadership Forum and is seeing continued fruit from this regional partnership and collaboration with Alutiiq communities around Kodiak Archipelago.

“It started with talk about the Hydroponic farming solutions, now more than five years ago and it’s exciting that the new food cabinet and system arrives in two weeks, March 2021. It’s fantastic to be on the cutting edge of this project and to work with the KALI Team.”

Shelley Peterson, Tangirnaq Native Village Administrator