Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area: K’Beq’ Interpretative Site


Location:    K’Beq’ Interpretive Site –  Mile 52.6 Sterling Hwy

Access is directly across highway from Russian River CG

Short Description: The K’Beq’ Interpretative Site provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the area’s rich prehistory. The site has a small center with a model of a dwelling (which if you’ve visited the AK River Site will provide an opportunity to check student notes.

Required Equipment: Notes from AK River Site,

Suggested Equipment: Flagging, tape measures

Safety Consideration: None: Stay on boardwalk to preserve resource.

Other Info: Also at site is the Lindgren cabin; a restored cabin from the 1930s  era.

Inquiry Prompts:  What’s Going On Here?


Assuming you’ve gone to the AK River Site, use tape measures and flagging to recreate the dimensions of the house pit in the parking lot of K’Beq’. Solicit from the students what the various parts of the structure might be used for. Remember, there has to be a way to get into the dwelling, a place to sleep, a place to cook/keep warm, and a place to socialize. Then also consider the number of people that might live in a house pit this size. Try it on for size– think 4 people lived here? Put four people within the perimeter and see “how it feels.”

Now go into the interpretative center and view the model and ask questions of the attending guide.

Then go out to view the house pit at the K’Beq’ Site. You’ll notice that it is not nearly as distinct as the one at the AK River Site. More importantly you’ll note a large hole dug in the middle. This wasn’t natural but rather was from someone digging a “coyote hole” prospecting for placer gold or someone looking for artifacts  which is highly illegal!

You’ll also note some partially buried plastic which denotes disturbed ground from an archaeological pit.

So What’s Going On?  The rest of the story.

The Russian River area is incredibly rich with pre-historical sites. There are hundreds of house pits similar to this one in the area. This was inhabited during several eras by different groups including the Chugach Sugpiaq from Prince Williams Sound and the Kenaitze group from the area. The reason that they came is the same reason so many people still come to this area: the fish.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good time to pull out the lesson discussing the mystery behind the two sockeye runs of the Russian River.