Point Possession, Cook Inlet


Point Possession, Cook Inlet

by | Feb 8, 2021

Point Possession is a headland on the northern shore of the Kenai Peninsula near the junction of Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm, about 44 miles (71 km) northeast of Kenai and 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. The point was named in 1778 by Captain James Cook who anchored the HMS Resolution off the point while smaller boats were sent to explore Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm. The Dena’ina people of Point Possession paddled out to the anchored ship and traded fur pelts in exchange for knives and needles. Cook sent a boat to Point Possession to perform a possession ceremony for King George III of England. An earthen bottle with a parchment inside that documented the possession was reputedly buried at the point but has never been found.

The point was the site of a historical Dena’ina village that was occupied only during the summer. The Dena’ina name for the point was Ch’aghalnikt meaning “where fabric extends out”. In the early 1900s, about 15 people lived in the village. With the arrival of more Euro-Americans following the discovery of gold at Hope, diseases not previously endemic to Alaska were soon quickly spreading. Cases of smallpox, influenza, measles, tuberculosis, whooping cough and other communicable diseases decimated the Dena’ina population. The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic killed 10 people at Point Possession, leaving just one family. From 1880–1920, at least eight Dena’ina villages in Cook Inlet were abandoned after too many people died for the villages to survive. Survivors moved south to Kenai, across the inlet to Tyonek, or further north to Eklutna.

Point Possession was selected as traditional Dena’ina lands under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. Soon after, land developers hoped to turn it into a resort community. In the 1980s, when the oil boom created economic opportunities, proposals were considered to build a causeway across Turnagain Arm from Anchorage to Point Possession via Fire Island. In 2009, Point Possession and the surrounding 4,247 acres (1,719 ha) was sold by the Alaska Native corporation of Point Possession to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and became part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Possession here:

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