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LOOKING BOTH WAYS: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People of Southern Alaska

Introduction
About the People
Alutiiq Villages
About this Project
Supplemental Reading

Object Categories
Ancestors
Our History
Our Way of Living
Our Beliefs
Our Family


Port Graham (Paluwik)

A few Alutiiq families settled Port Graham in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The village grew when a cannery that was built in 1912 brought more people there to live and work. The late Elder Walter Meganack talked about the early days:

"I heard my father say that Paul Okfew was the first one to settle in Port Graham. He had a barabara at the site of where the cannery is now. In 1912, my dad, Affanasia, and my older half-brother Nick Mumchuck moved here to Port Graham. They were the first people to move here to build cabins and settle" (as quoted in Stanek 1999).

Residents of Port Graham recently learned about an even earlier period of their village's history. In 1996-98, students and volunteers worked with archaeologists from the University of Alaska to uncover the remains of houses where ancestral Alutiit lived from about 1285 to 1485 A.D. The grandparents and great-grandparents of some of the families at Port Graham once lived in Yalik and other old villages on the outer coast of the Kenai Peninsula. The Port Graham Corporation, created by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, owns land on the outer coast as a resource for the future, when people might want to return to their former territories.

Port Graham was home to 166 people in 1990. Its residents work in commercial fishing, logging, and other industries, but they also bring food to the table directly from the land and sea. Almost everyone helps to harvest wild resources such as salmon, sea mammals, birds, eggs, and berries. These foods are shared with Elders, relatives, and friends.



Drawing of a Russian mine located on the northwest shore of Port Graham Bay, circa 1850's. Courtesy of the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

Port Graham cannery, 1940s. Photograph by John Poling. Copyright Chugach Heritage Foundation.

Port Graham, 1940s. (Left to right: Johnny Malchoff, Vera Mumchuck [Tabios], teacher's daughter [name unknown], Annie Fomin, Phillip Anahonak). Photograph by John Poling. Copyright Chugach Heritage Foundation.

Port Graham, 1940s. (Left to right: unknown, Phillip Anahonak, Murphey Meganack, Marvin Norman, Johnny Malchoff). Photograph by John Poling. Copyright Chugach Heritage Foundation

Port Graham children, 1940s. Photograph by John Poling. Copyright Chugach Heritage Foundation.





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