Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

The Indigenous People

The Good Land

Among the early people that originally lived in the Kenai region are the coastal Alutiiq and the Dena’ina (linguistically connected to the interior Athabascans.) In the cool, wet, coastal climate, indigenous people found the area rich with culinary resources. Hunger was probably rare. Perhaps this is why the Dena’ina call this area “Yaghenen” …The Good Land.

 KENAI LAKE

This is Now and That Was Then:  Episode: 8

Relevance: ***

Long before white settlers came to the country, the indigenous people of the Kenai had names for the lakes, mountains, and streams. This episode looks at how indigenous names had a much different meaning than those today.

 EARLY PEOPLE OF THE CORRIDOR

Trails Across Time: Chapter 2, pgs 21-29
Relevance: ***

The earliest known inhabitants of the eastern Kenai were people of the Paleo-Arctic culture. Sugpiaq and Dena’ina cultures grew to be regionally dominant. Writings include a summary of Frederica De Luguana unraveling the mystery of elaborately decorated stone lamps. (pg 23)

 

FIELD TRIP NOTES

Trails Across Time: pgs 28-29
Relevance: ***

Taking a field trip? Six roadside sites of cultural significance are located and described.

 

 EARLY PEOPLE OF THE CORRIDOR

Secondary Curriculum: Chapter 2
Relevance: ***

Artifacts can help tell the story behind ancient cultures. However, archaeologists in Alaska are now using the oral traditions of direct descendants to help interpret these artifacts. This lesson utilizes a Power Point lesson (complete with film clips of elders) that discusses the work of archeologist Aron Crowell.

 

 

THE RUSSIAN RIVER QUESTION

Secondary Curriculum: Chapter 3
Relevance: *

Every summer fishermen congregate upon the Russian River. It has always been so.  It was also an important site for the Aluutiq and Dena’ina peoples. The Russian River is unique since it provides spawning grounds for 3 distinct populations of sockeye salmon.  The reason for the unique multi-runs of sockeye is both compelling…and a mystery.

 K’BEQ CULTURAL CENTER

Explore the Corridor:  Site 15
Relevance: ***

The K’Beq Cultural Center has a preserved house pit and small interpretive center to learn about the Dena’ina culture and the significance of the Russian River.

MARY AND CHESTER

The Spaces Between: Pgs 15-20
Relevance: ***

This story discusses the friendship of Alaska Native Mary Lowell (grand daughter of Mary Lowell) and of Chester Anderson, a Caucasian child who was visiting for the summer. From their friendship, a glimpse of early 20th century Native Alaska/Western relationships can examined and interpreted.

 

NPS: THE LOWELL FAMILY AND ALASKA’S FUR TRADE INDUSTRY

Relevance: ***

Provides information about the Alutiiq people that lived in and around Resurrection Bay before and during the arrival of the Russians. Includes information specific to Native women.

 ANCHORAGE MUSEUM TRAVELING KITS

Relevance: **

This site has traveling kits for educators interested in bringing indigenous art and history into the classroom. Though there isn’t a kit specific to the Eastern Kenai Peninsula, there are resources that can be adapted to meet specific cultural objectives.

 DENA’INA LANGUAGE HOME PAGE

Relevance: ***

This site is a valuable resource for educators needing information about local Native stories, language, and biographical information on notable Dena’ina elders.