Ayakulik River, Kodiak Island

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Ayakulik River, Kodiak Island

by | Nov 15, 2019

Ayakulik is an abandoned Alutiiq village on the west coast of Kodiak Island, about 2 miles (3.2 km) southeast of Ayakulik Island and 88 miles (142 km) southwest of the City of Kodiak, Alaska. The village was located at the mouth of the Ayakulik River that starts at a lake about 11 miles (18 km) south-southwest of Karluk and flows south for 28 miles (45 km) to Shelikof Strait. All but the lower one mile of the river is located within the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. The Ayakulik is the largest river system on the island, draining an area of 186 square miles (48,174 ha), and includes 25 tributary streams and 271 lakes, making this one of the largest salmon producing watersheds on Kodiak Island. The name was first published as “Reka Ayakulik” or “Ayakulik River” by Captain Mikhail Tebenkov of the Imperial Russian Navy in 1852.

The river is one of the most important ancestral locations of the Alutiiq population and culture. At the time of Russian contact, the village at the river mouth included over 130 barabaras, the Alutiiq subterranean sod houses. It is estimated that the area may have once supported approximately 15,000 people. In 1939, most of the natives of the area moved 15 miles (24 km) east to the village of Akhiok, but have continued to use the Ayakulik to fish, hunt, and gather native foods.

Today, the uplands along the lower one mile of the river have complicated land ownership, but most of the property is owned by the Ayakulik Alaskan Native Village Corporation, and several smaller parcels are privately owned. The corporation is part of Koniag Incorporated, one of thirteen Alaska Native Regional Corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 that entitled Alaska Natives with aboriginal rights to the lands of their ancestors. The corporation’s land consists of one square mile (259 ha) section located at the mouth of the Ayakulik River. Read more here and here. Explore more of Ayakulik River here:

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