Sumdum Village, Endicott Arm

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Sumdum Village, Endicott Arm

by | Aug 8, 2020

Sumdum Village is a historical Tlingit community located about 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Powers Creek, on Sumdum Bay at the northern end of Endicott Arm, about 70 miles (113 km) north-northwest of Petersburg and 49 miles (79 km) southeast of Juneau, Alaska. Powers Creek starts at the terminus of Sumdum Glacier and flows southwest for 2 miles (3.2 km) to Endicott Arm.

At least fourteen geographically distinct Tlingit clans or groups existed in Southeast Alaska prior to Euro-American contact. The Sumdum clan inhabited Holkham Bay and Endicott Arm and used seasonal fish camps in addition to the main village located at Powers Creek below the Sumdum Glacier. Prospectors discovered gold in Powers Creek in 1869 and the placer deposits were worked intermittently until 1911. In 1880, John Muir traveled here and described the Sumdum village as occupied by 37 Tlingit who subsisted mostly on salmon and seals. There is little information about these people other than by 1931 there were no natives living in that area and by 1946, no one from that village remained alive.

Gold deposits attracted more prospectors into the area which altered the traditional Tlingit lifestyle in the vicinity of Powers Creek and later across the bay at Sanford Cove where, in 1880, more gold was discovered near a traditional family fishing settlement at the outlet of a salmon stream. In 1893, a large mining facility was developed at Sanford Cove to support the Bald Eagle mine that employed up to 20 men in 1894. By 1900, the population of the mining settlement, also called Sumdum, reached 137, the majority of which were Sumdum Tlingit. The large Tlingit population indicates that family groups inhabiting the dispersed Sumdum settlements in Endicott Arm became centralized at the Sumdum mining village during this period. The mine continued to operate until 1903, after which a majority of the population moved out of the region. Read more here and here. Explore more of Old Sumdum Village here:

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