Refuge Rock, Partition Cove

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Refuge Rock, Partition Cove

by | Jul 27, 2018

Refuge Rock is in Partition Cove on the eastern shore of Sitkalidak Island, about 54 miles (87 km) southwest of Kodiak and 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Old Harbor, Alaska. Partition Cove is separated from McDonald Lagoon by a spit now connected at both ends to Sitkalidak Island. The Awa’uq or Refuge Rock Massacre was a battle between the Russian-American Company and the native Alutiiq people on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The attack was led by Grigory Shelikhov and 130 men armed with muskets and cannons.

In the mid-1700s, as Russian fur traders expanded north and east from Unalaska, they encountered resistance from Aleut and Alutiiq natives who were intent on repulsing them. In 1784 on Kodiak Island, Shelikhov moved to assert Russian dominance and sent a force to Refuge Rock to subjugate the native Koniag. The Koniag villagers traditionally gathered at the refuge when under threat of attack from other native groups. Shelikhov and his men sailed their boats into McDonald Lagoon behind the rock and hidden from view.

Eyewitness accounts vary but the Russians killed at least 300 men, women and children on Refuge Rock, and Shelikhov claimed to have captured over 1,000 people, detaining 400 as hostages. This began a dark period for the Alutiiq as the Russian traders enslaved men to hunt sea otters year-round, while women and children were held hostage. Read more here and here. Explore more of Refuge Rock and Partition Cove here:

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