Kustatan, West Foreland

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Kustatan, West Foreland

by | Jan 11, 2021

Kustatan is a historical Dena’ina community on the south shore of the West Foreland in Cook Inlet, about 71 miles (115 km) southwest of Anchorage and 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Kenai, Alaska. The last syllable “tan” in the name means point or cape. The name was first published in 1880 by Ivan Petroff who was a Russian-born soldier, writer, and translator who for many years was regarded as a major authority on Alaska.

When the first European explorers arrived in the late 18th century, the Dena’ina Athabascans occupied most of the west side of Cook Inlet. The Cook Inlet Dena’ina lived in villages in late fall and winter. Each village contained one or more multifamily, semi-permanent houses. Known village sites along west Cook Inlet included Polly Creek, Harriet Point, Kustatan, Old Tyonek, North Foreland, and at the mouth of the Chuitna River. The combined population of these villages is not known but likely numbered at least several hundred people. When the Dena’ina stayed at Kustatan, they made oil from beluga whales and seals and also collected razor clams. The clams were preserved for the winter by first cooking and then putting them in a sack made from beluga stomach. The sack was filled with hot oil and sealed.

Cook Inlet is an oil and gas region first identified by Russian explorers in the 1850s. Early exploratory drilling started in the 1950s and the Swanson River oilfield on the Kenai Peninsula was discovered in 1957. In 1968, Pan American Petroleum discovered the Redoubt Shoal oil field adjacent to Kustatan. Today, the field is operated by Glacier Oil and Gas and the unit includes the Osprey platform and the Kustatan production facilities. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kustatan here:

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