Rutkovsky Village, Afognak Strait



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Rutkovsky Village, Afognak Strait

by | Jun 12, 2019

Rutkovsky is an abandoned village located on the south coast of Afognak Island, about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Kodiak, Alaska. The community consisted of a series of settlements extending in a single row of widely scattered dwellings that lined a long curving beach for about 0.75 miles (1.2 km).

For more than 7,500 years the Alutiiq people lived in many small settlements in the Kodiak Archipelago. Like most other early Native Alaskans, the people of Afognak fished and hunted sea mammals from kayaks covered in sealskin. The people also traded services and goods with other settlements. The Russian American Company arrived on the island in 1784. Despite tensions between the two groups, many Natives learned Russian and converted to Russian Orthodoxy. Eventually, Russians and Natives married and some settled in a community called Russian Town or Rutkovsky that was founded during the early 1800s by pensioned employees of the Russian American Company. It was located next to Aleut Town, also known as Ag’waneq, which eventually grew into Afognak village when the two settlements merged.

The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 and soon schools that only taught in English were established in regions where no one spoke the language. By 1900, much of the younger community was trilingual, speaking Alutiiq, Russian, and English. The fishing boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s started many canneries in Alaska but the wasteful fishing practices caused tensions with the Alutiiq who wanted to keep their subsistence fishing lifestyle. In 1912, Afognak was covered by 3 feet (1 m) of ash when Mount Katmai erupted, and on March 27, 1964, the Good Friday earthquake generated a tsunami that destroyed the village. A new community was constructed on the northeast coast of Kodiak Island, called Port Lions in honor of the Lions Club that helped relocate the village. The former residents of Afognak moved permanently in December 1964. Read more here and here. Explore more of Afognak here:

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