Kasaan, Prince of Wales Island

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Kasaan, Prince of Wales Island

by | Dec 5, 2018

The community of Kasaan is on the Kasaan Peninsula at the northern end of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. It is one of the northernmost of the Kaigani Haida villages. Residents moved here from the former village, Gasa’aan (“pretty town”), on Skowl Arm, now called Old Kasaan, starting in 1893 and mostly in the period 1902-1904. This migration was prompted by the promise of jobs and a school following the development of copper mining and a cannery near the present location.

Kasaan is one of the main historical communities of the Kaigani Haida. Traditional Haida territory spans the current international boundary between British Columbia and Alaska, with the heartland known as Haida Gwaii, which means “island of the people” in Haida. The Haida Gwaii archipelago was first surveyed in 1787 by Captain George Dixon of the British Royal Navy, who named the island archipelago after one of his ships, Queen Charlotte.

The Haida have also occupied present-day southeastern Alaska for more than 200 years, the modern group having emigrated from Haida Gwaii in the 18th century. Prior to contact with Europeans, a group migrated north to the Prince of Wales Island area within Alaska. This group is known as the “Kaigani” or Alaska Haidas. Today, the Kaigani Haida live mainly in two villages, Kasaan and the consolidated village of Hydaburg. The Haida are master canoe makers, constructing their canoes from cedar logs up to 60 feet (18 m) in length. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kasaan here:

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