Crusty old Joe's

Kodiak Alaska Military History

The official web site of the Kodiak Military History Museum


Kadiak Island

The main island in an archipelago about the same size as the state of Connecticut, the island was discovered in 1763 by Stephan Glotov, a Russian fur trader, and known as Kikhtak, also Cadiack. The US renamed it Kadiak in 1890 and Kodiak in 1901. The first settlement was made in 1784 by Grigory Shelekhov (Shelikof) at Three Saints Bay, on the island's southeastern part. During the 19th century the island was a base for seal and sea otter hunting and whaling. Russian control ended in 1867 with the U.S. purchase of Alaska. In the early 1900s the U.S. Department of Agriculture established an experimental cattle station, but the eruption (1912) of Novarupta Volcano near Mount Katmai blanketed the island with ash, still visible in disturbed soil, and interrupted agricultural activities. In 1964 a violent earthquake lowered the island by 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m), accompanied by a tidal wave (tsnaumi) that caused widespread devastation.

Patrick Saltonstall of the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak says: Kodiak is an Aleut (Unangan) word for Kodiak. It means something like land of our enemies. The Russians who first went to Kodiak heard about Kodiak from the Aleuts and used their word for the place. The local people on Kodiak are known today as the Alutiiq - they called themselves Sugpiat. They are NOT the same people as the Aleuts from the Aleutians and did not speak the same language.

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Main index This page created 2001 July 28, updated 2009 January 31